An open letter from a Centennial parent

Last night’s Board of Education meeting was a wild ride,and there’s so much to tell you.  First, this open invitation from one of the dads of Centennial, the school in which we stand in firm solidarity:

Dear NW Denver Parents, Teachers, Business Owners, Citizens, Press, DPS board;
This message is intended for anyone who wants to protect the NW Denver community & have great schools for our children.

I don’t want to choose the education of my child like I choose my socks at 6am. Things don’t always end up well for me when I am quietly trying to match socks up in the dark. I do a little better when I plan ahead and know what I am putting on.

So, I am holding an open meeting at Zooks Coffee Tomorrow Morning, Saturday 2/23/13 at 8:30am (MST).

You are welcome to come. I would like to talk about overall unity among our community to discuss the one thing we can unite on.
We all want what is best for our kids & what is best for our community.

Let me get to the point.
On this email, there are people for and against every issue that is rolling thru the NW Denver community. Included are Centennial K-8 parents and community members who want the principal to go and those who want her to stay. I have copied parents and community members who are very excited about innovation and those who are against the change. And many who were a little heart broken when we didn’t see the name(s) of a special teacher on the lists of returning teachers.

I am excited that NW Denver has the attention of the school district to improve our Schools in NW Denver.
I am fearful that the process and recent series of events, may seriously harm our neighborhood as it proceeds unless we unite.

Some of the ripple effects of change are AWESOME. These issues have caused community involvement in Centennial (and North High) to grow exponentially and we now have a very invigorated parent community who is involved and will fight for what is best for our children.

BUT, some of those ripples are driving a fracture in our neighborhood. And with a larger, caring community population, we now have a community that is divided.
We will never all agree on politics and religion, but I am sure that we can all agree that we want what is best for the place we call home. The handling of this matter has caused us to fracture, and divide. Even if DPS’s goal is to provide the most efficient, fulfilling and effective education to every child in our neighborhood, their methodology has caused a fracture in our home.

As admitted by a DPS board member last night at the board meeting; fractured and wounded neighborhoods are in the wake of changes DPS has made in the past. But the fracture that it has caused in our community cannot be repaired unless we unite on one thing and one thing only; We will defend our community.

Denver Public Schools will continue press change and improvement. We demand that of the School Board. However, in this case, they expect us to choose our children’s future like I choose my socks at 6am….in the dark, trying not to wake anyone.

So, the community has come together, even if it is on opposite sides of an issue. We can unite in support of our community. I owe my children the duty of ensuring I fully understand what kind of school I am putting them in.

This invite will be sent to SOS Colorado, Defense Denver, North Siders of Denver, Centennial School, Occupy Denver Public Schools, Our DPS, HUNI, Lohi and 32nt avenue merchants associations.

The worst thing that will happen is that I will have one of the best cups of coffee in the neighborhood. Or, some people will come together and discuss the things we have in common.
Location: Zooks Coffee (tied to the Denver Puppet Theatre in NW Denver) 3156 W 38th Avenue, Denver Colorado, 80211 in the Highlands.
Time: 8:30am (MST) Saturday 2/23/13.

I know this time may conflict with other events in your calendar and I do apologize. The media has been invited.

If this is news to you, I have summarized my experience below

NORTHWEST Denver School removes 75% of the teachers the day AFTER parents can choose to send their kids to another school.

If your school would have told you that 75% of the existing teachers at your school would be released from their position at the end of the school year, would you choose that school for your child? Parents of Centennial K-8 in NW Denver were not given that choice. Denver Public Schools, and the current principal of Centennial K-8 in NW Denver decided to remove 75% THE DAY AFTER PARENTS COULD CHOOSE to send children elsewhere.

I am not going to passively sit back and watch this continued, calculated, deception effect my son’s education.

The process was outlined to the parents in the CEC meeting at the end of November 2012. Was this the process followed when they decided to gut our school and remove 75% of the teachers the day AFTER we were able to make our choice of schools?

This was a very strategic, and calculated move. I really worry about the true underlying motives for the timing.

Dear DPS,
Not only was that move underhanded, it was dishonest. If you say that the choice out date had nothing to do with your decision, then you are oblivious to what is important to parents. That makes me not trust you. If you did this with the date in mind, and thought of it as little important, then you are again oblivious. And I still don’t trust you.

Finally, a Majority Vote was cast last night in support of slowing the wheels that are in motion to ensure all variables have been addressed. That vote, although a majority in favor, is in question as the board is a member shy, and the Superintendent stepped out of the meeting before the vote was cast.

–Dustin Tidwell, Centennial parent

Can you come and join the meeting in solidarity too?

More about the majority vote situation last night

After last night’s public comment, Board Member Andrea Merida introduced a motion to stop the progress on the Centennial school redesign until a full community process had been had and other variables had been considered.  She pointed out that the board may have been deceived in their vote on December 20 to phase out the middle-school grades, because though the resolution does give the principal the power to make changes to staff, it was requested in the context of phasing out those three grades.  She called it another “bait and switch” from the administration.

The vote was taken, with the result of 3-2.  Board president Mary Seawell was not present.  The district’s legal counsel declared the motion failed, citing board policy BEDA, which says that “voting shall be by roll call with each member present voting “Aye” or “no” alphabetically. To pass, any motion must be approved by a majority of full membership of the Board.”

So what exactly does “a majority of full membership of the Board” actually mean?  A majority of the current existing board was present, 5 out of the 6.  The district’s legal counsel said that the motion failed because they needed 4 votes to pass.  But the board isn’t currently a 7 member board because of the vacancy created by the resignation of Nate Easley.  It’s currently a 6 member board.

So what now?  Community members are filing complaints with the Colorado Attorney General’s office, as well as with the Colorado Department of Education.  You can call too.  720-508-6000.


Education and the Wall Street connection

by Angela Engel

This election year, Denver voters will have an opportunity to demonstrate the power of citizen engagement and the importance of direct control of our neighborhood schools. National interests are investing heavily in Denver’s school board race. The players are many, the politics ugly, and the possibilities are, well, promising.

The Players

Stand for Children established a Colorado chapter in 2010 in order to push legislation that tied teacher evaluations to test scores. Their investors include The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and New Profit Inc., a “national venture philanthropy fund.” Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) is a newer organization that promotes charter schools, alternative certification training, and performance pay, and in addition, promotes mayoral control.  Another player, the Alliance for Choice in Education (ACE), originated in Colorado in 2000. ACE members made significant campaign contributions to the Douglas County School Board responsible for directing private dollars away from some of the most high-performing public schools in the state. Several other funders have also joined the ranks, and the one thing they all have in common are trustees and board members with corporate connections and with very deep pockets.

The Profit Motive

So why are corporate executives and wealthy entrepreneurs suddenly interested in public education?  Because they like to make money, and recent education reforms, along with “new tax credits.”  The Education management organizations (EMOs) in which they heavily invest their money have provided ample opportunity to make a dollar.

Here’s how they do it:

Private charters and online schools. Under the guise of failing test scores, EMOs* co-opt community schools or aggressively market for online students. Colorado Virtual Academy (COVA), managed by the Virginia-based company K12, projected growth in excess of 100 million dollars last year. It’s fair to note that many charter schools are district managed and publicly controlled. Still, Colorado policymakers have created a double standard favoring charter schools. Education News Colorado reported that nearly half of online student enrollments leave before finishing the year. The majority of programs are low performing and operating outside of the accountability mandates required of public schools. Online and charter schools can hire non-licensed and non-certified employees.

Alternative licensing programs have become big business. Teach for America (TFA) reported earnings in 2009 of more than $269 million. Their tax documents list their net assets at $261.5 million. This past July the Walton Family Foundation committed $49.5 million to double the number of Teach For America candidates throughout the United States; $3.1 million was designated for Colorado.

Senator Michael Bennet, DFER “Reformer of the Month” and recipient of nearly $500,000 in DFER campaign contributions, is sponsoring the GREAT Act, which calls for taxpayer dollars to fund private revenue-generating alternative certification models. In a “Statement of Principles to fix the Elementary Secondary Education Act,” Bennet stated, “We also must support programs like Teach for America…”   TFA prepares college graduates in a five-week summer training program. While their results are mediocre at best, TFA candidates are attractive to budget-strapped districts. The majority of candidates don’t last, and the two year revolving door of cheap labor keeps costs associated with salaries and benefits low. The two-year contracts and building transfers allow TFA candidates to maneuver around teacher effectiveness mandates and the accountability required of real teachers.

Tests, text books, and more tests. While education experts and innovators call for personalized learning and differentiated models of schooling, groups like Stand for Children and DFER  support national standards (Common Core is also funded by Gates) and punishments and sanctions tied to test scores. The McGraw Hill (publishers of CSAP) financial fact book mirrors the national education platform. It’s no wonder, with contracts in 26 states, that this publishing company holds a monopoly over all curriculum and assessments. The failed No Child Left Behind Act based on standardization and high-stake testing has cost taxpayers billions and delivered zero in terms of return on investment…unless of course you are a publishing company.  McGraw Hill listed revenues at $2.3 billion in 2009.

The Possibilities

While corporate revenues are growing, school budgets across the state continue to shrink. Every child in Colorado will see a decrease of 5% in per-pupil funding. The results of the millions in cuts and misdirected funding has meant larger class sizes, fewer course offerings, reductions in intervention and prevention services, elimination of gifted and special education programs, and fewer college opportunities for Colorado’s children. This election holds the opportunity for communities to reclaim their neighborhood schools.

So pay attention, Colorado!  Corporate board takeovers are targeted for Denver, Adams 50, Jefferson County, Colorado Springs District 11, Mapleton, Harrison, Mesa County and Weld County.

According to the ACE website, “we encourage everyone to pay close attention to this important election, as the pro-charter, pro-choice, pro-accountability reforms that have taken root in Denver may be at stake. Our friends at Stand for Children are a great resource on the candidates, their positions and the issues surrounding this critical election.”

Stand for Children and their investors will be directing millions at these targeted races. The question is whether the money go to our children or whether the children go to the money. Colorado deserves school boards committed to strong neighborhood schools that grow thriving communities. We need leaders that understand the importance a strong education system plays in a democratic society and an educated and empowered workforce.  Our children and their future warrant a local government dedicated to protecting and serving their interests. This election is an important opportunity to restore the “public” in public education and ensure that our school leaders put community service above self-interest. Ballots are out. Cast your vote for kids, not corporations.

Seeds of Tomorrow author, Angela Engel
Seeds of Tomorrow author, Angela Engel

Angela Engel, author of Seeds of Tomorrow: Solutions for Improving our Children’s Education, has been an advocate for children, families and the advancement of education for more than 15 years. Clear and direct, she writes from her extensive experience in the education system as a teacher, school administrator and parent of two school-age children. Her writing brings solution-based thinking and a gift to articulating complex issues in concrete, meaningful ways that connect with the diversity of stakeholders in the education system.The Executive Director of Uniting4Kids, her current work includes empowering teachers, parents, and students to honor the lives and learning of all children.



*Like the EMOs that run West Denver Prep and like the one that was pushed upon the community at Northeast Academy Charter in Montbello.

Big corporate money coming in to suppress community voices in DPS school board election

Well, the campaign finance reports are in, and just as we’ve suspected, corporate Denver, Stand for Children and DFER are coming to the rescue for their slate.

Kind of puts everything into perspective, right?

Give to the pro-community campaigns, or volunteer, today.


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Nate Easley, voucher proponent

A lot’s been said about the despicable, race-baiting campaign launched by the LiFERs (Latinos for Education Reform).  It should be noted that these persons with Hispanic surnames don’t actually send their own kids to the zero-tolerance test prep labs that are the charter schools they promote.  No, their kids get to go to cool magnets and the better schools in town, because THEY DON’T ACTUALLY LIVE IN NEIGHBORHOODS WITH HIGH NUMBERS OF LATINO FAMILIES.

Turns out that the LiFERs are really just a front for the pro-voucher movement.  You remember vouchers, right?  It’s the experiment normally tried on low-income communities to slide out of the social contract to provide a sound and equitable public education to every child in America.  You know, like the experiment in Milwaukee that never worked, not even after 20 years of heartfelt trying.

And for all the gnashing of teeth about “accountability,” LiFER’s high-powered cadre of influential folks can’t seem to get the federal nonprofit organization functions right.  They’re apparently having trouble filing the right legal documents to bash pro-community candidates and promote their corporate reform slate.

That would be bad enough, except that it’s come to light that one of the signers of the race-baiting campaign, Myles Mendoza, is a voucher proponent.  Not only does he:

But now he’s so much of a big, fat voucher proponent that he even threw a party at his Castle Rock home in May of this year when Douglas County passed their faux-charter-for-vouchers scheme.

And then he tried to cover his tracks.  That was good for a few laughs.

But upon closer scrutiny of the party pictures, who do we see gazing lovingly up at the speakers?  Well, it’s northeast Denver’s own “representative,” Dr. Nate Easley.  Himself.  In the flesh.

DPS President Nate Easley supports vouchers
Nate is enthralled by the talk about vouchers has more.

Wow, Nate.  Just when we thought you wouldn’t stoop any lower than to turn coat on your community within hours of winning your election, now we see that you’re also willing to privatize and destroy your community’s public schools.

By the way, he’s endorsed Jennifer Draper Carson, the Stand for Children poster child in northwest Denver.


Southeast Denver evaluates school board candidates

Over the din of most political campaigns, we sometimes have trouble discerning one candidate from another. We were curious about how the at-large and southeast Board of Education candidates would vote on the proposed co-location at Merrill. So, we asked each of them to answer two questions.

Our friends in southeast Denver that are fighting the impending co-location of a program nobody wants into Merrill Middle School have shared their “candidate litmus test” with us.  They’re calling it the “Candidate Performance Framework,” which we find very apropos.  Further down, they’ve shared the unedited candidate responses with us.  Read on…

At present, the Denver Public Schools administration is proposing to co-locate a new elementary school concept called “C3” at Merrill Middle School in south east Denver. I have attended countless community meetings and talked with literally hundreds of people across the south east related to this issue. Through these conversations, it became evident that the majority of south east Denver apparently does not want this co-location of C3 at Merrill.

Over the din of most political campaigns, we sometimes have trouble discerning one candidate from another. We were curious about how the at-large and southeast Board of Education candidates would vote on the proposed co-location at Merrill. So, we asked each of them to answer two questions; please see the table below.

Using a similar approach as the district does with its School Performance Framework (“SPF”), we’ve assigned the candidates’ answers color-coded ratings of “green” or “meets expectations”, “yellow” or “approaching expectations”, or “red” which means “does not meet expectations”. This Candidate Performance Framework, or (“CPF”), has colors which, for the table below, symbolize how the candidates will vote (on the co-location issue) as compared the apparent desires of the majority of the constituents they (will) represent. No response from a candidate also equals RED, since one person chose not respond to this community member’s request.

CPF Color Key
GREEN = “Meets expectations” – Candidate will vote in accordance with the community’s apparent wishes.
YELLOW = “approaching expectations” – Candidate’s answer was inconsistent/noncommittal/unclear.
RED = “does not meet expectations” – Candidate will vote with the DPS administration, or is unresponsive to community requests.


click image to enlarge

Unedited candidate responses

Southeast Candidates:

Anne Rowe

Response # 1 from Anne, Monday 10/10/11 at 2:32 PM:

As I stated at the Denver Decides Forum, Oct. 1st, I do not support C3 at Merrill. I believe the community engagement was done poorly by the District (which I’ve shared with the District and current board members Bruce Hoyt, Theresa Pena and Mary Seawell) and that the broader strategic thinking around Merrill has not been considered in the District’s proposal. We need great middle schools and I want to work with both Merrill and Grant.


Follow-up  question to Anne’s Response # 1, Monday 10/10/11 at 2:37 PM:

If the C3 co-location at Merrill is voted in by the current board, would you move to reverse that decision?

Response # 2 from Anne, Monday 10/10/11 at 3:03 PM:

That’s a tough one. I would have to see the details of the proposal voted on by the current board. Considerations would include:

  • “real” community engagement/input
  • strategic thinking/plan around Merrill
  • examples of co-location of an elementary with a middle school (I think most co-locations have been of similar age students)

Follow-up question to Anne’s Response # 2, Monday 10/10/11 at 3:35 PM:

Hi Anne,

Please see question # 2 again, exactly the same way as I first posed it to you and the other candidates.  I understand your answer to question # 1 is “No”.   I am unclear as to your definitive answer to question # 2.

Here’s the question:  2.  In the event that the current BOE votes “Yes” to the co-location of C3 at Merrill, if elected, would you move to reverse that decision immediately upon being sworn in?



Emily Sirota

1. If you were already a member of the BOE right now, would you vote “Yes” on the DPS administration’s proposal to co-locate the C3 at Merrill?

NO.  In my many conversations with Merrill parents they have made known to me they do not want co-location of C3 at Merrill.  The DPS administration “engaged” the Merrill community after the administration had already made its co-location decision.  The district must do a better job of listening to the community, taking their input and working with parents to determine the best course of action in our schools.  We need our parents to feel and be invested in our schools, and by telling them what is going to be done we potentially loose a vital component of student success.

2.  In the event that the current BOE votes “Yes” to the co-location of C3 at Merrill, if elected, would you move to reverse that decision immediately upon being sworn in?

YES – If the building has not been retrofitted.  When I am sworn in I will immediately move to reverse the decision on co-location of C3 at Merrill if no funds have been spent to retrofit Merrill to accommodate C3.  However, if the retrofit is underway or completed, I do not believe it would be fiscally sound to retrofit then move locations.

At-Large Candidates

John Daniel

Thanks for your interest in this race.  We need all the help we can get from parents and people involved with their schools.

1. If you were already a member of the BOE right now, would you vote “Yes” on the DPS administration’s proposal to co-locate the C3 at Merrill?

This has become a complicated issue.  My understanding is Merrill is under-subscribed.  There are too few students of Middle School age registered in the school..  It was designed to hold more students.  We have a number of Elementry schools that are over-subscribed.  This is a less than ideal solution to the situation.  I would vote to co-locate C3.  We only have access to so much relestate and a constrained budget.

2. In the event that the current BOE votes “Yes” to the co-location of C3 at Merrill, if elected, would you move to reverse that decision immediately upon being sworn in?

I would not vote to reverse a co-location of C3 at Merrill.  This is an important issue, but as I feel we need to maximize our use of the available buildings and resources, the co-location is an example of the type of decision we will have to make to maximise our use of funds.  I would prefer to keep the Elementry Children segregated from older children.  That is not always possible.

Frank Deserino

In answer to your first question, NO, would be my vote to have any type of school, especially a charter like C3 to co-locate at Merrill.

In answer to your second question, YES I would vote to reverse any decision that would place / co-locate a C3 at Merrill.


Roger Kilgore

I can see why you have been successful in achieving the community-based goals that you have tackled in the past and no doubt will continue to address in the future, like the issue you are raising today. I have to say, I am not a fan of color-coded ratings because they tend to simplify our discussions too much.  Given that, I would request that you distribute my comments, and those of the other candidates, not just the color-coding.

Here are my responses to your two quesitons:

Question 1: The administration has a record of poor to little consultation with the community in co-location and turnaround issues. That comes for a belief that the central administration knows best.. I am running to help strengthen school-centered decision making where parents, teachers, the principal, and the community identifiy issues, develop improvement plans, and work on the implementation of those plans, all with the supporting resources of the administration.  There is clearly a need for more elementary school capacity, but you and others had been working on a Cory-Merrill K-8 scenario that was ignored. It also appears that other options such as the use of Rosedale were not considered. From this the co-location of C3 at Merrill was premature and should not have been approved in June. If I was on the board right now, I would vote NO on the proposal.

Question 2: The board of education is currently hampered by challenged working relations internally and with the Superintendent. I firmly believe that this is not in the best interest of our children. I think it is in their best interest to have a broad range of opinions so we do not get into a “group think” about our education system. If elected, I will commit to investigate this issue immediately with my colleagues, with you, and with other stakeholders. There is more I need to know before taking a stand to reverse the previous board’s decision.  I hope you will not judge me too harshly for not providing an unequivocal yes.


Jacqui Shumway

1.   If you were already a member of the BOE right now, would you vote “Yes” on the DPS administration’s proposal to co-locate the C3 at Merrill?   Please answer “Yes” or “No” and explain if you like.

No.  Based upon all of the information you have provided here, it appears that there is not enough room, and would inhibit the efforts to expand Merrill as the community middle school option.  Another location should be explored if Rosedale Elementary is not an option.

As I mentioned in an earlier e-mail, this situation sounds very similar to the 2008 situation at Smiley Middle School.

2.  In the event that the current BOE votes “Yes” to the co-location of C3 at Merrill, if elected, would you move to reverse that decision immediately upon being sworn in?   Please answer “Yes” or “No” and explain if you like.

Yes. We would need to look at other locations and determine if space is available to house C3.  Since the “Prime Choice” time for middle school selection is November-January, we would have to move quickly to inform parents of the change which could greatly effect their child’s choice to attend Merrill.


Watch replay of SE Denver school board race forum

Are we on the right path or not? Ms. Rowe, make up your mind. If you’re this indecisive now, how can Denver’s families rely on you to make the tough decisions? Watch the first televised video.

We just have one question for Anne Rowe.  Stand for Children, the hedge-funded politics-instead-of-kids group that has endorsed her, points out problems with DPS, like the approximately 50% graduation rates and the problems our 3rd graders have with reading.  So, if Stand for Children says we need to change course, but Ms. Rowe keeps saying we should NOT derail from the path DPS is on…then, WHICH IS IT?

Are we on the right path or not?  Ms. Rowe, make up your mind.  If you’re this indecisive now, how can Denver’s families rely on you to make the tough decisions?

Stand for Children: Advocates for kids or corporations?

If Stand for Children and other “education reformers” truly are serious about upgrading the
quality of education for all students, they will demand that equity and justice be achieved for all students, not just the privileged and the lucky.

by Ed Augden (retired Denver Public Schools Teacher, community activist)

This fall, Stand for Children (SFC), a national advocacy organization for “education reform”, will try to elect to the Denver Board of Education a slate of candidates –Happy Haynes, Anne Rowe and Jennifer Draper Carson – dedicated to reform (high stakes testing with rote learning to prepare for testing, teacher evaluation tied to student testing, privatization of public education and the same old authoritarian governance model).

Voters may want to know more about SFC – its board of directors, principal benefactors and donors and principal local supporters. While it began in Portland, Oregon as a legitimate child advocacy organization, unfortunately when wealthy donors became contributors, its mission changed to advocating for corporations and wealthy donors and against the interests of children, especially poor children of color.

A group of Chicago African American clergy recently met with SFC members and complained they seemed disinterested in students’ issues and more interested in promoting Waiting for Superman (a film that advocates for reform and bashes teachers’ unions as reform opponents). According to an article by David A. Love, Executive Editor of, the film “…did not fly…” in Chicago.  While the clergy advocated for more school books, SFC lobbied the Illinois legislature for “union busting” legislation.

SFC’s national board of directors includes venture capitalists and private equity investors, no educators and no “grassroots” parents. Its donors and benefactors include Bain Capital, once headed by Mitt Romney. This same firm acquired a manufacturing plant in Indiana, fired its workers and rehired them at lower wages. New Profit, Inc., a private equity firm and SFC supporter, has ties to a firm that, according to Love, has been “…running Muammar Gaddafi’s PR campaign…”

Other wealthy benefactors include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wal-Mart’s Walton Family Foundation and other organizations dedicated to privatizing public schools, breaking teachers’ unions and, in my view, perpetuating the status quo these reformers claim they want to change.

Locally, SFC supporters include Van Schoales, former head of Education Reform Now, and now executive director of A Plus Denver, another advocate of “education reform.” Rupert Murdoch paid his salary as head of Education Reform Now. A Plus Denver should be counted on as a supporting organization. Certainly, Tom Boasberg, Denver Public Schools (DPS) superintendent, whose sister, Margaret, was an original SFC board member, must be counted as a supporter.

Mentioning Boasberg’s name prompts another question. Why aren’t his children enrolled in DPS so they can gain from the “education reform” measures he’s instituted? Perhaps they could be enrolled at Montbello or North High Schools?
They might help integrate Kepner Middle School which has a 95 percent Latino enrollment.

If Stand for Children and other “education reformers” truly are serious about upgrading the quality of education for all students, they will demand that equity and justice be achieved for all students, not just the privileged and the lucky. They will demand that a comprehensive education be available at every neighborhood school that includes art, music, physical education and that the community be meaningfully involved in school governance.

Those folks familiar with Denver North High School since the 1970s know that problems at the school were prevalent since that time. Yet, various administrations either couldn’t find solutions to the dropout problem, to teenage pregnancy, drugs and on and on or they didn’t try. Nevertheless, those problems existed in the 70s, 80s and 90s. They didn’t suddenly emerge in 2007. The “redesign” that occurred that year didn’t solve any those problems. In fact, student achievement declined, the dropout rate increased and student population declined. The only period of measurable success since Joe Sandoval was principal in the 1990s occurred under Dr. Darlene LeDoux who was principal just before the “redesign,” the attempted quick fix.

To contend that this nation’s schools and DPS are failing is in 60s terminology, a “cop out.” Our nation’s public schools are a reflection of our society. If they are failing, it’s because we’ve failed as a society and as a community to hold ourselves accountable. Until that happens, “education reform” will be just another failure.

Rupert Murdoch paid Van Schoales’ salary, funded Education Reform Now

Rupert Murdoch is funding the One Chance Colorado campaign.
The Grand Poo-Bah of Corporate Irresponsibility, Rupert Murdoch

No, we’re not joking.

The New York Times reported on July 23, 2011, that:

Mr. Murdoch began to put his own money behind Mr. Klein’s efforts. At one point, he quietly donated $1 million to an advocacy group, Education Reform Now, run by Mr. Klein, bankrolling a continuing campaign to overturn a state law protecting older teachers, according to a person told of the contribution.

The story about Rupert Murdoch’s involvement with failed corporate education reform is here.

So, what does this have to do with Van Schoales?  Well, until very recently, he was the executive director of Education Reform Now, based here in Denver.  Van has now gone on to lead everyone’s favorite faux community outreach group, A Plus Denver.  His attack poodle, Myles Mendoza, also an employee of Education Reform Now, still works there and even recently gave a party to celebrate the victory of vouchers in Douglas County, CO.

A strange outcropping from all this is this hokey One Chance Colorado campaign that has magically appeared out of nowhere.  As the spoof site tells us, the partners in this pull-the-wool campaign are Stand for Children (led nationally by Jonah “It’s Not Really About the Kids” Edelman) Colorado, Colorado Children’s Campaign, Colorado Succeeds/BizCARES, Democrats for Education Reform-Colorado, Get Smart Schools, Education Reform Now (Murdoch money!), and A+ Denver.  Wow.

According to them, the solution for providing Colorado kids the chance to succeed is “(e)very child in every neighborhood deserves a school with great teachers and leaders who will renew focus on the fundamentals of reading, writing and math – today, not tomorrow. ”

So, in other words, you can kiss your whole-child curriculum good-bye.  No foreign languages.  No calculus or trigonometry.  No physical education.  No arts or music.  In short, if One Chance Colorado has their way, there will be nothing that colleges actually look for in entrance applications or nothing that scholarship review committees want to see.  DPS is 70% low income (free and reduced lunch).  So they won’t even have a shot at a great college education or even a scholarship because One Chance Colorado wants to only focus on what’s on a standardized test.

Is that the kind of education you want for your kids?  As Diane Ravitch said at the Save Our Schools march,

Regardless of their origin or neighborhood, all kids deserve the same kind of education that children get at Sidwell Friends (where the President’s children attend).

Heckuva job, One Chance Colorado!



Prepare for the future, and see all the various degrees available at Central Methodist University today.

Stand for Children chief dupes Illinois

Well, someone needs to ignore politics.

This video features Jonah Edleman, head of Stand for Children, presenting to the Aspen Ideas Institute.  He lays out how he connect the state legislature to strip away pension fairness for teachers (public workers), and how he tricked the media and public into not paying attention.

What does stripping away solid pension rights have to do with kids?  Does the Denver branch of Stand support this kind of action?

Denver teachers, you need to start scrutinizing your union leadership.  Capitulation like this means more standardized tests, less reasons to keep seasoned teachers in our classrooms, and kids lose.

Recall organizers question Denver Elections Division findings, vow to continue fight

Below is a statement issued by John McBride, chair of the Northeast Community Congress for Education and spokesman for the Nate Easley recall effort:

Considering that Nate Easley had over $60,000 in campaign contributions from wealthy donors who didn’t even live in his district, our unfunded volunteer effort signals the beginning of the end for DPS officials who are tone-deaf to the needs of their constituents.

While we do have significant concerns about the Denver Elections Division’s process regarding fairness, accuracy, professional conflicts of interest and alleged leaking of information to Nate Easley’s operatives, the fact remains that more people signed the petition to recall Nate Easley than voted to elect him.

If anyone thinks that those 6000 voices don’t matter just because the Elections Division threw out their names, they had better think again. Our grassroots effort should put Mr. Easley on notice that whether through another recall effort or by voting him out of office, his days are numbered as our District 4 school board representative.

The public has no tolerance for elected officials who are bought and paid for. The recall initiative mobilized thousands of people who are dissatisfied with decades of DPS experiments resulting in school shut downs and phase outs that disrupt our communities, displace our children and scapegoat our teachers.

We have built significant political capital within the Northeast and Far Northeast communities, and we intend to use it to improve our schools the right way – in true collaboration with the community.