Category Archives: DeFENSE

Mas de 5.000 personas están de acuerdo: ¡Fuera con Easley!

el 28 de marzo del 2011

Contacto: John McBride 720-270-0327 o Larry Borom 303-355-4635
Organizaciones: Northeast Community Congress for Education, Black Education Advisory Council, and Democrats for Excellent Neighborhood School Education (DeFENSE)

Correo Electronico:info@defensedenver.com

Sitio del Red: http://defensedenver.com

Evento: Entrega de peticiones para la retirada del representante del DPS Distrito 4

Fecha/Hora: Martes, 29 de marzo, 2011 3:30 pm

Lugar: Denver Election Commission , 200 W. 14th Ave., Suite 100 (esquina suroeste, 14th y
Bannock), Denver, 80204

Más de 5,000 votantes del Noreste de Denver Apoyan la Retirada del Presidente y Representante del Distrito 4 del la Mesa Ejecutiva de DPS, Nate Easley

Denver, CO – Mas de 5,000 residentes de Denver, incluso Montbello y Green Valley Ranch, firmaron en favor de retirar al presidente y representante del Distrito 4 de la mesa ejecutiva de Denver Public Schools, Nate Easley por su conflicto de interés que resulto en una falta en su capacidad en representar a las familias del noreste de Denver en una manera independiente.

Easley está empleado como el subdirector de la Fundación de Becas de Denver cuyos miembros incluyen oficiales de las escuelas públicas de Denver (DPS), Theresa Pena y Tom Boasberg, que apoyen abiertamente el cerramiento de escuelas que han recibido pocos recursos para convertirlas a escuelas privadas (charter) como parte de la estrategia “turnaround” de DPS.

Ahora hay más gente que lo quieren fuera de oficina que los 4,500 que votaron para ponerlo en oficina. Apoyo para el retiro está particularmente fuerte en el área de Montbello así que muchas familias ya saben cómo se siente el impacto de cerrar escuelas y reducir la capacidad de escuelas. Muchos padres reportaron que sus hijos fueron puesto en una “lista de espera” de mas que una lista después de las loterías que tenían lugar para determinar la matriculación de estudiantes para el año académico 2011-2012. Padres expresaron su frustración y enojo por tener menos “opciones” ahora aunque llenaron las formas de matriculación muy a buen tiempo. Antes padres podían matricular a sus hijos en escuelas del barrio, y esas escuelas los aceptaron abiertamente sin que importara sus necesidades, dificultades o capacidades.
Ahora, familias enteras han sido rehusados de las escuelas chárter más selectivas. Familias están en pánico por conseguir opciones para sus hijos que tendrán que asistir varias escuelas por todo el noreste para matricular a sus hijos en escuelas que aceptaran a sus hijos. Es probable que cientos de niños vayan a estar desplazados y forzados a asistir escuelas fuera de sus barrios y además fuera del distrito en los condados de Adams y Arapahoe. También hay reportajes de que DPS y Easley no respondieron a llamadas de padres con preocupaciones.

“Hemos hablado con mas constituyentes de Nate Easley en los pasados 60 días – que es más de los con quienes ha comunicado durante sus 18 meses en oficina,” declaró John McBride.

Una coalición comunitaria de padres, abuelos, educadores y vecinos juntaron por dos meses para circular peticiones. McBride explicó que este grupo tan dedicado sin fondos ningunos de grupos políticos y fundaciones adineradas alcanzo a comunicar con miles de residentes, aunque un avalancha de dinero vino al lado de Easley de fundaciones adineradas para ayudarle en su lucha contra el retiro.

Otra cosa que escucharon los residentes es la gran cantidad de terminaciones de empleo que ocurrió durante la época de Easley. En los pasados 18 meses, Easley apoyaba la clausura de siete (7) escuelas públicas que dejo a más de 400 personas sin su trabajo sin sin ninguna evidencia de que los maestros eran inefectivos. “En esta economía tan difícil, nuestros oficiales elegidos no deben de estar en el negocio de poner más gente en desempleo, especialmente a los que trabajan cada día dedicados al servicio público como nuestros maestros,” declaró Mary Sam, una maestra jubilada y 8voluntaria para el retiro. Organizadores del retiro encontraron a muchos maestros que apoyaron privadamente el retiro porque tenían miedo de firmar la petición por el ambiente de intimidación que existe en DPS. Easley ha recibido más de $35.000 de contribuciones para su campaña de anti-retiro; pero, la mayor cantidad de fundadores viven fuera del distrito de Easley. Casi $20.000 de estos fondos vienen de miembros de la mesa directiva de la Fundación de Becas de Denver, los mismos que lo supervisan como empleo. Scott Reiman, Jack Kim, David Scanavino, Terry Leprino, Barbara Grogan y Steve Kris son fundadores y también empleadores de Easley. Un fundador, Wesley Brown, es codirector de St. Charles Capital con una colega de Easley en la mesa directiva de DPS, Bruce Hoyt, quien es apoyador de escuelas charter. También la corporación, Oakwood Homes, que desarrolla nuevos barrios en Montbello donó $5.000 para ayudar a Easley a luchar contra este esfuerzo de sus constituyentes.

Cuando se enteró de las contribuciones a Easley, un padre de noreste comentó, “Esto da mas fuerza a la creencia que “ya compraron” a Nate Easley los interés corporativos.”

Organizadores del retiro tendrán una conferencia para la prensa el martes 29, 2011 a las 3:30pm en frente del Denver Election Commission en 200 W. 14th Ave. Por las incertidudes de las listas de registración, organizadors sugeran que los firmadores que chequeen su estatus de registration de votante por hacer click al buton rojo “Register to Vote”
en www.defensedenver.com.

More than 5,000 support recall, press conference tomorrow

Over 5,000 Northeast Denver Residents Support the Recall of

DPS Board of Education President and District 4 Representative Nate Easley

Denver, CO – Over 5,000 Northeast Denver, Montbello and Green Valley Ranch residents signed their names in support of recalling DPS Board of Education President and District 4 Representative Nate Easley due to his conflict of interest resulting in his failure to independently and adequately represent Northeast families. Easley is employed as the deputy director of the Denver Scholarship Foundation whose board members include Denver Public Schools (DPS) officials Theresa Pena and Tom Boasberg, strong proponents of shutting down or phasing out under-resourced public schools and converting them into privatized charter schools as part of the DPS “turnaround” strategy. There are now more residents that want Easley out of office, than the approximately 4,500 people that voted to elect him.

Support for the recall was particularly strong in the Montbello-area since many of those families have already felt the impact of school closures and seat reductions.  Many parents reported that their children were “waitlisted” on more than one list after lotteries were held to determine enrollment placements for the 2011-2012 academic year. Parents expressed extreme frustration and even anger that they had fewer “choice” options now despite filling out enrollment forms early. Previously, parents could readily enroll their children into neighborhood schools, and those schools openly accepted them regardless of their needs, challenges and abilities. Now, entire families have been shut out of the smaller and more selective charter schools. Parents have been left scrambling to find options for siblings who will be dispersed across the Far Northeast area, searching for schools that will accept all of their children. Potentially, hundreds of children will be displaced and forced to attend schools outside of their neighborhoods and even outside of the District into neighboring Adams & Arapahoe counties. Parents also reported that their phone calls were not being returned from DPS representatives, including from Easley.

“We have talked to more of Nate Easley’s constituents in the past 60 days than he has talked to during his entire eighteen months in office,” stated recall spokesperson John McBride.  A volunteer grassroots coalition of parents, grandparents, educators, and neighbors joined together for nearly two months to gather the required signatures. McBride explained that the dedicated and unfunded group of diverse volunteers reached thousands of residents, despite the avalanche of money that poured into Easley’s bank account to help him fend off the recall.

Another sore point for residents was the high number of teacher firings that have occurred under Easley’s watch. In the past 18 months, Easley has supported the closure of seven public schools and was complicit in putting 400 teachers’ jobs in jeopardy when there was no objective evidence that the teachers were incompetent. “In this difficult economy, our elected officials should not be in the business of putting people out of work, especially dedicated and hard-working public servants like our public school teachers,” stated Mary Sam, a retired DPS teacher and recall volunteer. Recall organizers encountered many teachers who privately supported the recall, but who were too afraid to sign recall petitions due to the environment of fear and intimidation within DPS.

Easley has received over $35,000 in contributions to his recall campaign; however, almost none of the donors listed live in Easley’s district. Almost $20,000 of those contributions came from Denver Scholarship Fund board members, the very same people that ultimately oversee his employment at DSF.  Scott Reiman, Jack Kim, David Scanavino, Terry Leprino, Barbara Grogan and Steve Kris are all on the DSF Board. One donor, Wesley Brown, is a co-director of St. Charles Capital along with Easley’s school board colleague Bruce Hoyt, another proponent of charter schools. In addition, Montbello-area development corporation Oakwood Homes donated a hefty $5,000 to help Easley fight off his own constituents. When told about Nate’s big money contributions, one Northeast parent commented, “It certainly reinforces the growing belief that Nate Easley is ‘bought and paid for’ by corporate interests.”

Recall organizers will hold a press conference Tuesday as they prepare to submit and report their final signature tally on March 29, 2011 3:30pm in front of the Denver Election Commission office at 200 W. 14th Ave. Due to inconsistencies in the voter registration lists, recall organizers encourage signers to check their voter registration status by clicking on the red “Register to Vote” button at http://www.defensedenver.com.

School board chief to be picketed

Contact: Lawrence Borom
Organization: Black Education Advisory Council (BEAC)
303-355-4635
lhughborom@hotmail.com

SCHOOL BOARD CHIEF TO BE PICKETED

For Immediate Release: March 18, 2011.

Pickets will be out Saturday, March 19, at a reception for Dr. Nate Easely, Denver Board of Education Chairman, sponsored by The Foundation for Educational Excellence. The reception will be held at the Green Valley Ranch Golf Club, 4900 Himalaya Road, Denver, CO from 1:30pm to 2:30pm.

The picketing is intended to emphasize the campaign to recall Easely by a variety of educational advocacy organizations. BEAC, Northeast Community Congress on Education (NCCE), and DeFENSE are organizations that will participate in the picketing as well as northeast parents and residents.

Easely is accused of having a conflict of interest between his employment and service on the Denver Board of Education which has led to poor representation of School Board District 4, his home district. Also, the DPS district is moving ahead on a controversial “turn-around” plan which will have grave impacts on the students, parents, and community of Montbello and Far Northeast Denver.

For the teachers

Don’t give up the fight, teachers.  It’s not just in Wisconsin that they’re coming for public workers like you.  Are you going to lie there and take it?

Many of you have lost your jobs at Montbello because of this hostile takeover.  Here are the numbers:

  • 2 out of 4 counselors
  • 6 out of 14 English teachers
  • 10 out of 19 math teachers
  • BOTH music teachers
  • 3 out of 5 P.E. teachers
  • 4 out of 10 science teachers
  • 5 out of 11 social studies teachers
  • 4 out of 10 special education teachers
  • 1 student advisor out of 2
  • 3 out of 5 world languages teachers

Are you gonna stand by and take it?  Click the “Hold Nate Accountable” button to the right, now.  Get involved.

Time for people to change their minds about Easley

as presented to the North City Park Community Association meeting  on February 22

Dear Neighbors of the North City Park Community:

Many of you may have recently been reading in the Denver Post about the campaign to recall Nate Easley, Ph.D., current president of the Denver Public School Board.  Unfortunately, the authors of these opinion pieces have presented their views without contacting community groups to verify their suppositions for the genesis of this initiative.   I want to take a few minutes to inform you of the real issues that caused members of the community to take this course of action as it relates to Dr. Easley’s performance as the representative of the Greater Northeast District of Denver.  Many of the community members involved with this action are former supporters of Dr. Easley and campaigned on his behalf in his election campaign.

  • Dr. Easley appears to have a conflict of interest with his additional position as Deputy Director of the Denver Scholarship Foundation while DPS Board member Theresa Pena serves on the governing board of the Foundation and DPS Superintendent Boasberg is an ex-officio member.  As President of the DPS Board, Dr. Easley is responsible to provide oversight and supervision to the Superintendent, while the Superintendent and Board member Pena have influence on the policies that could affect Dr. Easley’s continued employment/salary with the Foundation.  There is no record that any of these people have recused themselves from participating directly or indirectly in policy decision making or voting in matters that influence performance review, compensation, or continued employment with both organizations.  It appears Easley has accessed resources of the Foundation to conduct DPS business.
  • Dr. Easley has held secret meetings in violation of the state’s Open Meetings Law. He has also failed to provide public notice of meetings where school board policy was discussed or developed.  He has misused the law in an attempt to publicly reprimand three pro-community DPS board members.  He repeatedly violated the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) when he denied parents’ requests for school finance records.
  • Dr. Easley consistently misses meetings with and ignores the concerns of members of the greater Northeast community, the constituency group that elected him.   He was the deciding vote for DPS to shut down, phase out, and replace public neighborhood schools with private charter schools in Northeast Denver.  He does not return phone calls or emails from concerned parents.  Between October 2010 and January 2011 Nate Easley failed to appear at numerous meetings with concerned community members to discuss the future of public/neighborhood based schools in Northeast Denver.  Some excuses given for missing these meetings have been “entry of meeting was not made in his blackberry” or, with a meeting scheduled and confirmed two weeks in advance, community members learned the day before that he would be out of town. At a public meeting at the Hiawatha Davis Recreation Center in the spring of 2010, a seminar was held on the education of black students in Northeast Denver. At that meeting Dr. Easley stated emphatically, “If people don’t like the way DPS is being run, they should let their feet start walking!”   Do you think this is appropriate behavior for a responsible, elected representative for our community?

In his campaign for election to the DPS school board, Dr. Easley talked of his commitment to support neighborhood schools.  His voting record, however, shows a 100% commitment, with the Superintendent and corporate-backed board members, to closing neighborhood schools and replacing them with charter or magnet schools or no school at all.  The Denver Post opinion pieces talked about Easley’s desire to help disadvantaged students to be successful. Where is the evidence to support such opinions?! These students need classroom teachers of color as inspiration and role models.  Under Dr. Easley’s administration layoffs of teachers and DPS staff have occurred. This has had a dramatic adverse effect on senior African-American teachers in the district with no prior record of corrective or disciplinary action, having been targeted by district personnel department.  Termination or forced retirement of these teachers creates a real void in a population of educators whose numbers have been on a steady decline, even as the population of students of color has risen for the past 10 years.

The petition to recall Nate Easley was initiated by members of the Greater Northeast Denver Community.  This is truly a grass roots effort to correct an untenable situation.  While we cannot question Dr. Easley’s motives for seeking a position on the DPS school board, we can question his sincerity in representing the interests of the constituent community.   He has the right to change his mind on the issues on which he built his election campaign.  In turn, the people who elected him can change their collective minds and recall a representative who does not take time to be involved with their concerns and issues or represent their interests.

If you are in agreement, we need your help. If you need more information, contact us at email:  info@defensedenver.com.

Sincerely,

Glenn R. Hanley, Ph.D.
Defense Denver.com

At the Wisconsin solidarity rally

We had a great time at the rally on the west steps of the state capitol today, in solidarity with the workers of Wisconsin.

One of our organizers, there to show support and collect signatures, said:

After the rally, we stood on Lincoln & Colfax  and held our “Recall Nate Easley” signs.  Lots of honks in support and many people passing by said they applauded our recall effort.  We have a lot more support in other Denver districts than we think. Can’t tell you how many people wanted to sign the petition but didn’t live in District 4.

Sounds like a lot of people are paying attention.  Below are some pictures from our day.

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Diane Ravitch addresses 500 “shadowy” public education supporters

It appears that $1,700 buys a whole lot of notoriety. Please watch (there will be more from last night’s event very soon).

500 is pretty good for no advertising budget, huh? Maybe that means that Denver is fed up with failed reforms that dismantle neighborhoods, disenfranchise parents and community, and deprives kids of access to a good public school education in the neighborhoods in which they live.

November’s coming, folks!

NEW AND UPDATED: An evening with Diane Ravitch

Plan to attend An Evening with Diane Ravitch

Moderated by Eli Stokols, Fox 31 News

Event location is changed and now free to the public

In order to open this great opportunity up to more Colorado residents with a passion for education, we are happy to  announce Diane Ravitch will now speak at a larger venue. Augustana Lutheran Church is the new location (see address). To further encourage community participation, we are opening this event to the public free of charge. However, attendees are still encouraged to register so we know how many are coming. Walk‐ins will be welcome the night of the event, if there is space. While the church can seat many more people than the previous venue, space is still limited.

You will not want to miss the chance to hear the author of “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education

In her latest book, distinguished education scholar and former proponent of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, Diane Ravitch raises concerns over testing mania and school choice. In the process, she is reframing the national debate
over the best ways to improve our nation’s public schools.

Sponsors:

Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA), Uniting 4 Kids, Democrats for Excellent Neighborhood School  Education (DeFENSE), Jeanne Slavin Kaplan, Northeast Community Congress on Education (NCCE), Black Education
Advisory Committee (BEAC)

Where: Augustana Lutheran Church
5000 E. Alameda Ave.
Denver, CO 80246

When: Thursday February 17, 2011
6:30 p. m. To 9:30 p.m. (MST)

Book signing opportunity
6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Speech and Q&A
7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Sign Language and Spanish interpreters will be available

Easley Recall Effort Nets Signature Surge

by Roger K, Clendening (reprinted with permission)

The campaign to recall Denver Public Schools (DPS) board president Dr. Nate Easley made significant headway in just a few days after petitions were approved last week, recall committee members told DWN Wednesday.  As the petition drive heated up, State Senator Mike Johnson, D-Denver, came under scrutiny and was pointedly questioned for his allegiance to Easley after he expressed disappointment about the Easley recall effort in his Senate District 33 newsletter.  Recall campaign committee members this week reported that they’ve collected “nearly 1,000” of the 5,363 valid signatures they need to put the recall measure on the ballot, all within “two or three days” of hard work after getting approval last Wednesday from the city’s elections division.

Nate Easley

“We started, earnestly, last Saturday and by this past Monday, we had nearly 1,000 signatures on the petitions,” John McBride, a spokesman for the recall coalition and president of the Northeast Community Congress for Education (NCCE), told DWN in an interview Wednesday afternoon.  In addition to NCCE, the recall coalition includes the Black Education Advisory Council (BEAC), and Democrats for Excellent Neighborhood School Education (DeFENSE).  The groups, their members, and citizen-taxpayers from across the city are working collaboratively to collect the 5,363 valid signatures they need by the last week in April. If and when Denver elections officials determine enough valid signatures have been submitted, they will arrange to put the recall measure on the ballot, comprised of a yes or no on recalling Nate Easley, and on who shall replace him if the recall succeeds. As the recall effort was making headway, Sen. Johnston, who represents parts of Northeast and Far Northeast Denver, said he is backing Easley and hopes his constituents do the same. In taking that position, Johnston, considered by some an education “expert,” was sticking to his years-long agenda that includes “education reform” as espoused by corporate and foundation backers who financially support charters and privatization of public schools.  Johnson, in fact, was among those who called for closing and reconstituting Montbello High School a year before DPS followed Easley’s lead as board president last November, uniting with Theresa Pena, Bruce Hoyt and Mary Seawell – the four of whom comprise a majority seen as consistently favoring education reform via charter schools and privatization – in approving the largest “turnaround” of public schools in Denver’s history, all of them in Easley’s, and Johnston’s, district.

Over three years, DPS will spend $12.6-million (with some of the money expected to come from the Walton Family Foundation, a major financier of charter schools) to close some schools, replace some with charters, and “phase out” and “turnaround” others as part of its proposal to “strengthen schools” and “expand options” in Montbello and Green Valley Ranch.

In Johnston’s newsletter dated January 2011 Vol. 1, Issue 2, in a section entitled “Moving Forward in the Far Northeast,” he told constituents: “Over the past year, dedicated community leaders in the far northeast took part in a long and collaborative conversation about the future of schools in Montbello and ultimately supported the decision that we needed dramatic change to give all kids a better chance at success. “No one knew this better than Nate Easley,” he wrote, adding that Easley, a Montbello High School alum who was a “teenage father who earned a PhD and rose to become” DPS board president.  Dr. Easley, Johnston wrote, is a “courageous and accessible leader who took seriously his responsibility to do what was best for kids.”

“That is why I was disappointed to hear this week that there is an effort to recall Nate,” Johnston continued, adding that “I will be standing strong to support Nate and hope that you do the same.” He then asserted that “there is too much work to be done on behalf of Denver’s kids to waste time trying to go backwards.”

But Johnston’s support of Easley angered many, according to interviews. In particular, though, it “saddened” Earleen Brown, an education and political activist who, as the former president of the Green Valley Ranch (GVR) Metropolitan District, is deemed a blossoming political powerhouse by many.

“I am saddened and disappointed to read that you are publicly supporting Nate Easley,” wrote Brown in an email she shared with DWN. By doing so, she wrote, “you are obviously and publicly supporting the conflicts of interest that exist as a result of (1) Nate Easley’s position as President of the Denver Public Schools Board of Directors and (2) Nate Easley’s position as Deputy Director of the Denver Scholarship Foundation – at the same time.” “Surely,” she went on, “you have not forgotten (from our meetings and electronic communications) the intense ethical, legal, and financial battles that residents of Green Valley Ranch endured because of similar conflicts of interest that existed when one T.J. Stone served as (1) board member and President of the GVR Metropolitan District Board of Directors as well as (2) board member and President of the Homeowners Association of Green Valley Ranch – at the same time.”

Pictured discussing the merits of the alternate proposals to DPS plans for turning around scools in Far Northeast Denver in October 2010, are GVR resident Earleen Brown (center) and retired educators Dr. Glenn Hanley and Mary T. Sam. In an email to Sen. Johnston, Brown wrote, “I am saddened and disappointed to read that you are publicly supporting Nate Easley.”

“I was President of the GVR Metropolitan District during the time when the community was devastated by the conflicts of interest imposed upon it by one T.J. Stone,” wrote Brown in providing Johnston with an example that should bring home the point of Easley’s conflict. “I and other community leaders met with you, Michael Hancock (City Council member for the northeast and now a mayoral candidate supportive of the DPS “transformation” in his district) and Angela Williams (now a State Representative covering the district) during those many months of community turmoil. “

“Angela has taken action,” Brown wrote. She has introduced a Bill which “prohibits individuals from serving concurrently on the board of directors for a metropolitan district and HOA within that district. The bill also requires HOA members to abstain from voting on issues where they or their family would benefit financially.”(Emphasis in Brown’s email)

Brown went on to remind Johnston that her property tax statement, the 2010 real estate tax due in 2011, reads: “60% of these taxes are determined by and collected for the Denver Public Schools.”  “I am opposed to the current DPS turnaround/closure plans,” she pointed out to Johnston. “I support public, neighborhood schools, and the right of every child to have an opportunity to receive a high quality education.”

She went on to challenge Johnston, wondering whether, in deciding and determining his support of Easley, if he can support Easley’s purported conflict of interest; violation of state open meetings law; violation of open records law; and Easley not being responsive and representative of constituents in his district.

Johnston had not responded to an email or a telephone message by DWN’s deadline.