Thank you Nancy Ulrich and Bill Freud for hosting me on Far More Colorado.
Elections and Celebrations
In mainstream headlines this morning, journalists once again pinned both wins and losses on teachers unions, but there is a different story here and it is a powerful one!
Citizens in three communities woke up to the reform agendas playing out in local school board elections and said, “NO MORE.” This election was not about political parties, unions, or even philosophical differences.
For over a decade now, economic interests outside of education have been “buying” seats in school board races. These seats then buy political power and economic opportunity. In Douglas County the board passed a voucher initiative that directed tax payer dollars away from successful neighborhood schools and directed those dollars at private schools with zero transparency or public accountability. The decision was later defeated in court but the board spent millions of taxpayer dollars defending themselves and forwarding an agenda to micro-manage and simultaneously starve community schools. Voters in Douglas County on Tuesday elected new leadership.
In Jefferson County, the majority board conducted a similar reform agenda directing public dollars to business interests. In setting the budget, the board cut $600,000 to fund all-day kindergarten for low-income families and increased funding to the 16 charter schools in the district by $2.5 million dollars. The conservative led board was first recalled and subsequently replaced by a stunning majority.
Denver Public School board candidates, all democrats, have followed an aggressive plan similar to conservative boards in Dougco and Jeffco; replacing community schools in high poverty neighborhoods with charter schools like KIPP, a national chain. Veteran teachers have been systematically eliminated and replaced with novice teacher trainees. Many complete a six week training program through Teach for America, a for-profit education enterprise. Investment banker, Anne Rowe, financed by wealthy power players to the tune of over $200,000 in her last election, retained her seat with the help of the Denver Post and Chalkbeat who launched smear campaigns against her opponent. Both news sources receive funding from similar interests forwarding the corporate reform agenda. Unfortunately, Michael Kiley and Robert Speth both lost by small margins.
This election illustrates a major shift in a state that has helped lead the corporate reform agenda throughout the country. Colorado followed Texas in passing legislation grading schools based on test scores. Senate Bill 186 was passed two years before Congress instituted the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002. In 2012, Colorado was again one of the first states to pass Senate Bill 191, tying teacher pay to test scores. Reform efforts are credited to well-financed charter school lobbies and campaigns financed by corporate interests. Both have gained significantly from the influx of public dollars to private coffers including test publishers, education management organizations, consulting firms, online providers, data management tools, and corporate charters.
This election signifies a major departure as the pro-charter, pro-testing, pro-corporate control reformers have been replaced with pro-student, pro-teacher and pro-community controlled parent leaders. It’s a new day in education.
Come Celebrate With Us
Children’s Advocates Celebration
Hey all you hard-working, under-appreciated, beautiful advocates for Children’s Education! We want you to join us for cocktails, conversation and a little reflection and recognition of everyone’s accomplishments over the last year.
When: November 12th, 5-7:30 PM
or….if more than 50 people respond to this invitation, we’re moving it to:
Govnr’s Park Tavern, 672 Logan St., Denver, CO
Note: We’ll let you know in advance if this event gets moved to Govnr’s Park Tavern!
Time: 5:00pm – 7:30pm MDT
Location: Interstate Kitchen and Bar