Category Archives: Far Northeast

What 9News needs to know about Montbello

We got word that Denver’s 9News was planning to do a big story on the “success” of the turnaround efforts in Montbello. The writer of this letter asked us to publish his letter to Nelson Garcia, news anchor at 9News.

Mr. Garcia,

I urge you to make sure you tell both sides of the story as you investigate what has been happening at Montbello. When you ask your questions, make sure you include random community members, random students, random teachers, not just people that Denver Public Schools has hand-picked for you to talk to. I challenge you to ask both sides the same questions and see how their answers compare.

Some questions to ask the random people might be as follows.

What’s happened to the experienced teachers who have worked there? If the old teachers were so bad, why did they wait until now to let them go? What’s the average age of the teachers who are coming into the new schools?

Why didn’t DPS support the school that already existed with the same amount of money that they’re spending on this change? What’s the difference in the per-student money being spent between now and before the change?

Why didn’t DPS support the school that already existed by providing a consistent principal? How many principals has Montbello had in the last five years? How might a consistent leader have made a difference?

Who stands to make money from this drastic move in the Montbello neighborhood?

What was the community input about these decisions? How do they feel about their kindergarten children riding on the same bus as the 12th graders? How do they feel about their school and community being dissolved?

Check the background of some of the administrators at Montbello and DPS. Do they have teaching experience? Do they have criminal records? Do they have ties to entities that would stand to profit from this change?

Considering what has happened at Manual, why would DPS continue to perform such drastic and expensive changes?

The Denver Public Schools is reporting the myth that things are going extremely well with the turnarounds that are in place in the schools, and that the community is happy with the school situation. That is not exactly the truth. The parents of the students who were lucky enough to get into the new schools, DCIS, DSST, College Prep, are probably extremely happy because approximately $11,000 per pupil is being spent to make sure their children are at grade level or above academically. Check out  Blueprint Denver at for information.

On the other hand, students left in the “phase out” schools are being warehoused until their schools close. Although DPS will tell you differently, our community did not agree to  have the majority of our students in schools that will be closing soon, depending on the choice process to gamble on a chance to get into a higher performing school.

Mr. Garcia, Channel 9 is well-known in the metro area as being a top-notch news provider. Please make sure that you continue to deserve that title while you do this story. Please be fair in your reporting. There are always two sides.

Thank you for your time.

Christmas in May for Far Northeast Children

May 5, 2011

DPS Board of Directors, and Superintendent,

No Christmas for Montbello students

You have seen me at board meetings, some of you have seen me at events and   locations within the Far Northeast as well as in other  communities. Director Pena, we spoke at one of the A+ meetings held in the  Far Northeast where I asked you to “do the math” before supporting the  “turnaround” plans for Far Northeast.

I joined the board meeting/conference call held Monday, May 2, 2011;   subsequent to that call, I want you to know that I am  disappointed in and disgusted by your willful and blatant disregard  for the law, the teachers, the staff, the students, the parents, the community  members, and the school process mandated by SB 08-130 to govern approval of  innovation (autonomous) schools.

I am whole-heatedly supportive of improving education, the access to   education, and the system of education for ALL students in the  existing public schools which are supported by 60% of my personal property tax  dollars.

I am supportive of sincere and honest efforts to respect and  include students, teachers, parents and communities in the development  and implementation of educational plans which affect us as  stakeholders in the Far Northeast.

I am supportive of the DPS board, administrators, and staff –  including yourselves – respecting and following the requirements  of Senate Bill 08-130 Innovations School Act in all matters concerning  the application and approval of such schools.

On Monday, May 2, 2011, Superintendent Boasberg, DPS  President Easley, along with Directors Pena, Hoyt, and  Seawall demonstrated a blatant disregard for the process of  consent – by administrators, teachers, other school employees, students,  parents, school advisory councils, and community members – required by SB  08-130 to approve innovation schools.

I object – along with thousands of other residents in the Far  Northeast –   to the mass privatization of our public schools in the  Far Northeast where I live.

I object to subjecting teachers; especially those who are minority and pension-invested, employed in the Far Northeast “turnaround” schools, to at-will firings and the so-called reduction in building process. I  object that you and other proponents of the “turnaround” process did not  have to sit before those teachers to see their faces when they cried.

I object to mass, ivy league, non-credentialed, 5 and 6-week  trainees being hired to replace stellar, credentialed,  experienced, mostly minority teachers in the Far Northeast.

I object to the blatant disregard of the expressed wishes and needs of   students, parents, and community members in the Far Northeast.

When you visit your doctor or designated hospital, God forbid that you   and/or your family will be forced to be treated by non-certified, non-licensed,  inexperienced, 5-6 week trainees who have been hired to replace   certified, licensed, experienced physicians, nurses and staff because  corporatist think that somehow the goal is all that matters. Intelligent people  realize that the goal is important but, who takes you there and how you get  to your destination are essential.

As elected officials of the “people” who elected you, you owe your   constituents the respect and dignity to be PRESENT in your  communities, to LISTEN, and to VOTE THEIR WISHES – that is why you were  elected.

Speaking OF the children does not equate to working FOR the  children. Supporters of the so-called “turnaround” plans, school reform,  and the charter school movement seem to operate as though they  are preparing for a poor kids Christmas party (charter schools)  where exciting “presents” (various school curricula) can be opened,  and there, the children and families will sing Christmas songs (hale to the  charter schools) and the communities will realize how wonderful the givers  (turnaround/reform supporters) are. Ignored was that the givers  didn’t ask the parents what the kids needed or what they wanted them to have.  The kids are pleased for only a short time because the “presents” were  not what they really needed, or wanted.

The DPS board of directors and superintendent tip-toeing around 900 Grant  Street hiding injustices is not the same as parents tip-toeing round  their houses, hiding Christmas presents.

“The power of the people is more  powerful than the people in power.” Perhaps that is what you are fearful of; however, if you are  a part of the people, you are a part of the power.

Earleen Brown
Far Northeast Denver resident
Concerned Citizen
DeFENSE member

Recall petitions multimedia

Below is a gallery of photos of copying the petitions:

[nggallery id=2]

And here are videos of the press conference:

Best quote: “In that document, it says ‘we the people.’ But in that document, it should also say, ‘power to the people.'” –John McBride

Part 2:

Best quote: “…DPS’ ‘magic math;’ that is, disappearing students.”

Part 3:


Best quote: “We stand with the 6,000 people who understand that in these hard economic times, elected officials should not be firing hundreds of dedicated public servants, or the people will rise up and fire these same officials.”

November’s coming, Denver. Will you stand with us to take back our schools?

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)


Sitio del Red:

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”

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

Montbello teachers on the chopping block

Readers will no doubt recall that there has been a massive hostile takeover of six different schools in the greater Montbello area. For those that aren’t familiar, this is a neighborhood in Denver, traditionally predominantly African-American but now populated by large numbers of Latinos.

"Northeast" Nate Easley, a.k.a. Mr. Neighborhood Schools

Montbello High School will now be broken up into three different schools. The current high school, now dubbed “Legacy,” will phase out students one year at a time. The other two schools are a “high tech” school and a “college prep” school, all application only and only accepting one grade per year, starting with 9th graders in the fall. If students are not accepted into either of the new schools, they will have to find somewhere else to attend, and there are a finite number of seats available at the two new schools. The estimated number of displaced students under this scenario is around 1300 next fall.

The last time DPS tried this was at Manual High School, more than 200 students were lost in the system, either because they were not properly tracked to the receiving school or because they simply gave up and dropped out. The Denver Post’s Allison Sherry ran a great series of this diaspora, called the “Manual’s Missing Series.”

Article 1: Reaching out to dropouts
Article 2: Brothers juggling, slipping out of school
Article 3: One girl’s soap-opera mess
Article 4: Trying, failing to get teen to take wing

Now the transition process at Montbello High School, a very messy affair, has begun. This week, 40 teachers and the principal from the middle school were summarily given their pink slips. Meanwhile, because 50 percent of all teaching positions at Montbello High will be cut next year due to the restructuring, all teachers are being forced to interview for next year’s positions that will be left.

There is currently no indication from DPS about whether displaced teachers will be allowed to apply for positions at the new school.

We received a note from a parent involved in the personnel committee that’s overseeing the interview process at Montbello High School:

I just wanted to let all of you know what I have been through in the last couple of days and will be tomorrow. I was on the teacher interviewing committee up at Montbello HS. We were told that the parents did not have a say but were there just to observe. We knew that this didn’t sound right so we made some calls and tried to get some clarification, which of course didn’t come. The powers that be also were consulting legal.

This was quite humbling. You sit in this room around a table and hear teacher after teacher interview for their job, a job that they shouldn’t be interviewing for. Yes, there were tears in their eyes and some even started to cry. We interviewers had to stay completely straight-faced and say nothing at all; well, I couldn’t say anything anyway as my opinion didn’t count. This process drains you.

As I sat on the sofa this evening looking or reflecting back on the past 2 days, I started crying, as I am now. I realized that half the teachers that were interviewed by the team I was on will not have a job in about a week but they are required to continue to work until the end of the year.

This really sucks; there is no other word for it. They are all great teachers and people and don’t deserve this. Nate (Easley), Theresa (Pena), Bruce (Hoyt) and Mary (Seawell) should have to sit in on these interviews and see the sadness and the wondering if they will be the one cut. I really don’t know how they are going to finish out the year. I talked with several of my son’s teachers; some have already given notice so that they wouldn’t have to go through the process and others didn’t. They knew that the teachers at Noel (middle school) had already gone through this process and asked how things are up there. I told them that things are more than miserable, no one wants to be there, the kids know what has happened and they don’t want to be there. Families that didn’t understand what was happening now know what is happening.

This community is losing a lot and no one seems to really care or that’s what I am hearing. There are several things that I want to say about Nate, Theresa, Bruce, Mary and Tom (Boasberg) but it wouldn’t matter because they don’t have hearts.

While no one agrees that the schools were up to snuff, some of these schools were in the midst of federally-funded “turnaround” plans that were showing great progress. Some basic indicators, like skyrocketing student attendance and homework completion rates were telling the story. But the Board of Education ignored all the successful markers, including the improving CSAP scores, and have completely disrupted the community and demoralized students and teachers. They apparently do not believe in fixing what needs to be fixed; they only believe in wiping the slate clean, regardless of the cost to kids and teachers.

Nate Easley, employed as the deputy director of the Denver Scholarship Foundation, has shown his conflict of interest is sharp detail over and over. He has never once voted against the Superintendent’s harmful schemes, such as what has happened in greater Montbello. He has never raised issue with the ramifications of any of these changes on his own constituents and on the high school from which he graduated. And now comes the new report of financial contributions to his “Easley for Better Schools” campaign committee, showing substantial contributions from members of the DSF board. Apparently, they have a stake in whether he’s a member of the Denver Board of Education.

Look for the filing here, and look at the list of DSF board members here. We can only assume that these are well-meaning people from whom the truth is being kept.

On the flip side, keep your eye on the recall committee’s campaign finance report. The committee is called Take Back Our Schools, and their reports will be found here. The first is due March 3.

It is, indeed time to take back our schools. If you would like to help gather petitions to recall Nate Easley, call Mandy at 720-224-4125 or email her at

The Campaign for Truth in DPS and The Denver Post

by Edward Augden, retired teacher and community activist

Reading Alicia Caldwell’s commentary on Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011, one could easily believe her assertion that the campaign to oust Denver Board of Education chair Dr. Nate Easley was just about his voting record as a board member and that the effort is a “big money campaign” spearheaded by “education anti-reformers.” Many voters and taxpayers might be shocked and/or offended by such an effort if they only read the Post. Unfortunately, her column, as with a previous one by Ms. Caldwell on the topic, included mostly half-truths and omissions. As a former journalism teacher, and after reading this and other editorials on public education, I’ve concluded that The Denver Post editorial staff
has become a purveyor of propaganda for Denver Public Schools (DPS) rather than a seeker of truth.

For example, Sunday was, probably, the first time that Post columnists have even mentioned that Easley might have a conflict of interest. For the record, Mr. Easley, as board president, supervises Tom Boasberg, DPS superintendent. Boasberg, as ex officio member of the Denver Scholarship Foundation board of directors can influence Easley. A pertinent fact omitted by Ms. Caldwell, is that Theresa Pena, another school board member, also serves on that board, of which Dr. Easley is the deputy director. In that capacity, Ms. Pena has influence and control over Easley’s  employment. During the campaign Mr. Easley stated that there would be no conflict of interest. Since his actions as board chair contradict his campaign rhetoric, it would seem that the influence of his bosses is having its effect.

There are several glaring half-truths and omissions, but the slur against Diane Ravitch, a “darling of the anti-reform movement”, – really exposes the Post and DPS as being too blind to see what real reform is or – as still in denial that a student’s family background and poverty are greater factors in student achievement than teacher quality. Even more important, advocates of real democratic and creative reform reject the false notion that testing should play the dominant role in evaluation of student achievement. Ms. Ravitch, in her book The Death and Life of the Great American School System, debunks many of the myths being perpetuated by so-called “educational reformers” such as the
myth about testing and choice. An ethical, well-trained, journalist seeking truth would investigate whether or not Ms. Ravitch represents true reform or not. Ms. Caldwell, in her column, provides no evidence of that kind of curiosity.

“Choice” is being offered to parents in northeast Denver and that means school closures, teacher firings and/or  reassignments, hardship for students and parents who may be required to “choose” another school other than the one they currently attend. Such a choice is likely far away from the neighborhood school that may be converted to a charter school they would not be eligible to attend.

Another factor consistently ignored by the Post and DPS is that of ethnic and socioeconomic segregation. Despite the fact that the 2006 Harvard Civil Rights Study Project, “Denver Public Schools: Re-segregation, Latino Style”; has been published and is available on the internet, that study and its possible ongoing effects have never been mentioned either by DPS or the Denver Post. What might capture the attention of these two collaborators as to the destructive effects of segregation and poverty on disadvantaged, impoverished children? What might convince the Denver Post to report all the truth about Mr. Easley, his conflict of interest and how it’s influenced his voting record and behavior toward his constituents (missed meetings, unreturned phone calls, etc.)?

Although this commentary is less than the 780 words written by Ms. Caldwell, it will not likely be printed in the Denver Post because it exceeds the 150 word limit for letters to the editor and, most significantly, it “speaks truth to power” as do other letters to the editor that the Denver Post fails to print even those within the 150 word limit.

As the only major daily newspaper in the Denver metro area, the Denver Post could and should be a beacon of truth instead of propaganda on educational issues. Sadly, it is not.

A teacher’s open letter to Nate Easley

My cat just died, so I’m having a pretty lousy evening.  I’ve been  watching her die for the last three days.  I didn’t have enough money to  take her to the vet.

You know what else is bugging me, Nate?

  • We got a new student at my school this week – a thirteen-year-old girl  from Honduras who just spent four months  alone in a detention center in Texas.  I’ll be “to blame” for her CSAP scores in two weeks.
  • We got a new student at my school this week – an 8th grade boy who  lives next to Bryant-Webster and attended there since 3rd grade.  He just returned from living with his mom in New Mexico for the past 6 months, and you know what?  He was DENIED attending Bryant-Webster.  Isn’t that a PUBLIC school, Nate?  You know, like a PUBLIC library?  Like a Post Office?  Where EVERYONE can go?
  • My daughter woke up with a fever on Monday morning.  I brought her to work with me, because I knew it was unlikely to get a sub at 7:15 a.m. on a Monday.  That’s how dedicated I am.

You’re being recalled not because of being Nate, but because of all that you stand for.  You and your rich folks’ clubs who pop in to “help” education could have been doing something all along to help education. Pay TAXES.  Are you willing to stand up for taxes so that schools don’t have to scrimp and save to help children who are desperate for a safe
place and a good education?  Probably not.  And that’s why you’ll be recalled, if I have to walk around and get the last  signatures myself.

Because I have to be in the union in order to create a more just system…and to beg for a salary that might allow me to have enough money to bring my dying animal to the vet.


A Teacher Who Canvassed to Get You Elected

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.