reprinted with permission from the Denver Weekly News
By Roger K. Clendening
Residents representing neighborhoods in Northeast and far Northeast Denver last night called on Denver Public Schools (DPS) to put the brakes on “disastrous turnaround” plans for Montbello High School and northeast feeder schools or face a rebellion from citizen-taxpayers that could include a boycott of DPS schools. Black, Hispanic and Anglo residents, from Montbello, Green Valley Ranch, and neighborhoods in northeast, southeast and southwest Denver, met for hours Wednesday night at the Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club to craft strategy and tactics in the war to stave off what many of them maintain is more than an educational plan they see as “disastrous” for current and future
Using millions in taxpayer-financed but Obama administration “turnaround” dollars, DPS says it will shut down Montbello High School’s comprehensive configuration, replacing it with a 9-12 grade collegiate prep academy for 150 to 200 students per grade that will grow one grade per year; collocate a new Denver Center for International Studies 6-12 grade magnet school within the building; and add a “high tech” early college.
Shut Montbello down “disastrously,” just like what DPS did at Manual High School, one neighborhood leader remarked, adding that fellow taxpayers committed to progressive rather than “disruptive” DPS school changes need to remember the history of Black and Brown citizens around the country who often had to resort to boycotts as an effective way to get what they deemed was the most equitable public education services for their children and grandchildren.
Moreover, “This is not just about education,” insisted Ron Bush, a long-time DPS employee who also owns real estate in Montbello and Green Valley Ranch. “It’s about gentrification and capitalization,” he explained.
Pay attention to shifting and often declining values of homes in Montbello and Green Valley Ranch, and how folks will “still” be getting offers for thousands more than their homes are appraised, Bush warned. Already, he noted, there are examples of homes getting sales offers of $150,000 more than their appraised value.
Remember, he said, who owns Green Valley Ranch. “Oakwood Homes,” his neighbors chimed in. Why do you suppose Oakwood Homes “adopted” Montbello High School years ago, one neighbor was heard to ask rhetorically. In an interview with DWN after the meeting, a DPS employee who requested anonymity out of fear of retribution by DPS, spoke, too, of the real estate issues related to DPS plans, and said she would answer that question this way: “Because these disastrous DPS changes – part of larger plans to privatize public education by businesses who will recapitalize with our school tax dollars – will better enable DPS and business to cleanse those schools, and these neighborhoods, of Blacks and Browns steered years ago to Montbello and Green Valley Ranch from Five Points and Park Hill to help gentrify those neighborhoods.”
Students, teachers, parents, and other residents committed to progressive, transformative changes in DPS schools, rather than the so-called “turnaround” plans for Montbello and its feeder schools, were urged to speak out at upcoming DPS meetings:
- DPS’s “final report” to the community on these proposals is set for 6:00pm on Oct. 26 at Rachel B. Noel Middle School, 5290 Kittredge St. in Denver.
- DPS Board, 900 Grant St. – November 8 – Special Public Comment on Turnaround Recommendations (Note: No time listed on the DPS website. Call 720-423-3210 to get the time of this “Public Comment on Turnaround Recommendations”) meeting
- DPS Board – November 15 – Work Session 4:30 – 8:30pm
- DPS – November 18 – Regular Meeting 5:00 – 6:30pm Public Hearing 6:30 – 7:30p (This is the meeting during which Board is scheduled to vote the Turnaround Recommendations for Montbello and others schools “Up” or “Down.” To get your name on the roster to speak at this meeting “for” or “against” the recommendations, you need to call the DPS office at 720-423-3210 no later than 5:00pm on Friday, November 12)
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