Denver Public Schools (DPS) November board election will host a rematch battle between what has been described as the forces of reform vs. tradition.
The board is divided 4 to 3 in favor of the superintendent’s efforts at reform, mostly holding off an eclectic group trying to tamp down or slow down changes. Some community and Hispanic activists, fueled by the Teachers union money and advice, have kept DPS in a state of considerable tension and conflict for more than two election cycles. And November will provide more of the same.
The current election line up is:
Arturo Jimenez, seeking re-election in northwest Denver
Jeanne Kaplan, incumbent, not up
Andrea Merida, incumbent, not up
Nate Easley Jr., incumbent, northeast Denver, not up
Bruce Hoyt, not running, southeast Denver, open seat
Theresa Peña, not running, at-large, open seat
Mary Seawell, incumbent at-large, not up
Polling data related to DPS shows:
• A 29 percent favorability rating is extremely low
• Voters tend to not know incumbent board school members and have only a vague sense of the issues and different viewpoints
• Turnout in November should be rock bottom
Hispanic and African-American voters were the most harsh judges of DPS, with large percentages giving the schools a poor rating. But, opinion was divided with a third of each group rating the schools “excellent” or “good.”
To some extent, the battle between reform and traditional forces reflect a division within the Democratic Party. Social Democrats represent the interest group party and nearly always protect organized labor and tend toward increasing the size and role of government – they tend to be beer drinkers.
The other faction is wine drinkers. It is socially liberal (gay rights, abortion), but it is comfortable with non-union, non-government solutions to social problems. They like competition and accountability.
The DPS election will be characterized by very committed stakeholders representing the two factions. They will recruit candidates and raise funds. Very large amounts of money for a non-paying job will be invested. One of the biggest stakeholders is the Denver Post. Clearly, the publisher has made it one of his interests and the pro-reform editorial page is very aggressive.
Education News Colorado – Field taking shape for DPS elections
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