UPDATED: Vouchers in sheep’s clothing in the Ed Reform Movement

Monday morning update: A friend who read my diary told me this morning that my link regarding Mr. Mendoza’s voucher celebrating house party no longer works.  Apparently Mr. Mendoza or someone else spent some time this weekend literally scrubbing his tracks from the internet (comments below also indicate that he’s removed his postings on facebook and twitter).  Fortunately the internet has a way or replicating things many places.  You can still read the story here.

(Original Diary)

In any movement, there are the reasonable people and those on the extreme fringes.  For those of us who believe in a balance between traditional neighborhood schools and charter, magnet, autonomous, and innovation schools, the line is usually drawn at vouchers.  Earlier this year we saw the right wing radicals like John Caldara fighting to keep vouchers for religious schools in Douglas County, which of course was thrown out by a judge:

I figured Douglas County could keep their nutjobs, because no one in Denver (where I live) actually supports vouchers for religious schools (besides a handful of Republicans no one will elect).  Apparently that isn’t the case.  I was reading about the gloves coming off in the Denver school board race, and one name struck me as interesting: Myles Mendoza.  Myles is the mouthpiece for a new group called “Latinos for Education Reform” which just started running full page ads attacking Arturo Jimenez, the board rep running for reelection in NW Denver.   He has since posted this “ad” on every facebook page relating to NW Denver he could find.  This is the same Myles Mendoza who held an event at his home in Castle Rock celebrating vouchers being approved in Douglas County:

So apparently after being thrown out in the courts there, Mr. Mendoza, who is employed by Ed Reform Now (an organization that I don’t believe is radical), decided to start attacking Denver Board members.  A quick search also shows that Mr. Mendoza was a pretty major donor to Jane Norton in the last Senate campaign.

Mr. Mendoza clearly isn’t the type of Bennet reform Democrat that he apparently wants people to think he is naming a group LFER (sounds a lot like DFER right?  Except that DFER is a national group and actually has a history besides some attack ads).

I’m writing all this because I don’t want people to think that right-wingers like Mendoza speak for those of us in the middle on reform.  I support good schools – I think that’s all every parent really wants.

74 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Obvious Alias says:

    I mean I know the Denver Post’s education reporters are qualified to write for a middle school newsletter, but no one connected Myles on the voucher thing (which was big news) and this?

    Wow the next round of stories about this group might be a little bit different…

    • John Tzekara says:

      The Post and Ed News both treated this like some divide in the Latino community, but it’s sounding like this isn’t a Denver based group, and the issues might have nothing to do with Jimenez and the Latino community — looks like that’s a cover for some rightwingers to take a shot at him.

  2. dwyer says:

    Here is a link to the actual ad:

    http://www.ednewscolorado.org/

    The list of supporters is at the bottom of the ad.  It includes

    prominent Democrats, like Elaine Ganz Berman and, of course, Teresa Pena.  Berman and Pena are dedicated Bennet supporters.  Plus, they have a combined tenure of sixteen years on the Denver School Board. So why aren’t they responsible for the mess?

    There are other names that may or may not identify other Democratic politicians, such as Rick Garcia,

    Rosemary Rodriguez.

    My questions:

    1) Could John Tzekara be mistaken about who is supporting this group?

    2) Could these prominent Democrats be clueless about the support?

    3) Something else?

    • John Tzekara says:

      Don’t get me wrong — I have a lot of questions about some of this still, but I did think about some of what you are asking.

      As far as Mr. Mendoza, he’s the National Strategy Director for Ed Reform Now — not really a minor play either: http://www.edreformnow.org/about/

      Also, he’s making himself a mouthpiece by reposting the ad on every site he can (apparently he doesn’t know about pols).  If others in the group didn’t know how he was and his history with vouchers in Douglas County, their oversight is going to cause them problems.  If they did know, they are stupid for letting a rightwinger like that in — they should know better.

      I am curious about Pena — of course she also just took a position with Hancock.  I wonder how he feels about her being an attack dog like this.

      As for some of the people being clueless, as the article says, names were already pulled off that version from the print one because the people claimed to have no idea their names were being signed to things.

      • dwyer says:

        What is really interesting in looking at the link for the Education Reform Now website is the list of prominent,

        “mainstream” educational activist who are involved.  

        It suggests to me that the Big Business, Big Money takeover of the educational reform system is complete.

        Again, Sirota’s claim that her opponent is pro-voucher resurfaces.

        I think that this is really involved….circles within circles.

        Thanks for all the information and links.

        • John Tzekara says:

          Like I said — I know there are good people on both sides, but the money often comes from the extremes.

          Thanks for the compliment — I don’t write on here too often, but I try do my homework when I do.

  3. Reformer says:

    You are ignoring the issue.  Jiminez and Merida are pretending to care about Latinos.  You attack Myles, a good man who works for an organization trying to fix our schools the unions screwed up so badly.

    Real Latinos like Rosemary Rodriguez, Senator Bennet’s State Director, and Theresa Pena, who is leaving this screwed up board to manage Mayor Hancock’s Denver Compact, have the courage to stand up for what’s right: they are true leaders.  You completely ignore these two powerful Latinas who work for our elected government officials.

    • dwyer says:

      Pena is leaving because she is term limited.  She has been part of the majority on the board for her entire eight year career. Berman and/or Pena have been on the Denver Board of Education since 1997, at least.  Who is holding them responsible for the mess?  

      Merida, Jimenez and Kaplan, have been in the minority during their terms – two years for Merida, four years for Jimenez (two years overlapping with Merida) and Kaplan, who I think is in her second term.  They have all raised important questions about funding and focus.  They have never, to my recollection, won a vote on anything….except a delay of thirty days in deciding where to put the second West Charter Prep school in North Denver.

      Are you a paid member of any campaign or organization?

    • John Tzekara says:

      That’s all I really have to say in response to that…

  4. Obvious Alias says:

    He was pretty brazen a few nights ago, but now I can’t find his comments on facebook anymore, can’t even find his page, and he’s blocked his twitter feed.  Guess he doesn’t like the attention…

    • nancycronk says:

      He must have just blocked you. “Studied at Washington University in St. Louis. Lives in Denver, Colorado. Married. From Palatine, Illinois. Born on…” (Now, I’ll get blocked, too.)

      The hard, cold truth is there are a number of Dems, like the majority of Republicans, who blame teachers for failing schools. They are ignorant, uninformed, and misguided, in my humble opinion. I have not known any parents who volunteer regularly in their child’s school who believe teachers are to blame for failing schools. It is usually the parents who never or rarely volunteer who make this assumption, IMHO. (It’s akin to the historical belief that if a woman does not give birth to a certain gender, it is the woman’s fault.) This belief does not make them bad people. Many have their hearts in the right place, and sincerely believe what they’ve been told, IMHO. They’ve bought the far-right kool-aide.

      I charge that educators, regular school volunteers, and other school employees share in the responsibility of allowing this myth to gain footing. We all need to blog, write LTEs, hold town halls, talk to our neighbors, etc., about the many issues which contribute to poor school performance in this culture (one out of four children living in poverty, children separated from the needed psychological support of extended family members, poor nutrition, high infant-adult ratios in ECE programs, parents working more hours for the same pay, a culture which does not support education, decreasing funding for schools, increased reliance on electronics rather than face-time with adults, etc.). Rather than condemn those who “don’t get it”, we need to organize those who do, and get them some megaphones.

      • nancycronk says:

        … a number of the people you mention in the article are people I know and respect for other reasons. For example, Rosemary Rodriguez is an honorable, intellient woman with a big heart and compassion for others. Like Bennet (I’m told — although he never said so in front of me), they may consider union reform to be one of the things that needs to happen, in addition to increasing funding for schools. These are good people who care about children and families. They are also strong Democrats in every other way. I just happen to disagree with them on this issue, and believe, as I stated above, they are wrong.

        I will fight for teacher’s unions(and I have), but I do not believe it is productive to personally condemn, attack, or question the motives of, those who disagree with us, particularly on the left. They have been our allies on other issues, and will be again in the future. We need to listen to them, ask to be heard, and work together for solutions that will best serve our kids and their families.  

        • RWhite says:

          Nancy, that is pretty impressive objectivity (even if I totally disagree with your policy positions).

          We live in a complex world with log cabin Republicans, Latinos who don’t knee jerk vote for based on surname and people with other sophisticated nuanced positions.  

          It would be much easier if everything fit neatly in its place.

          Take Arturo for instance.  His claim to the same level of complexity would be welcomed and encouraged, if his record didn’t go square against that stance.  

          I respect your honesty and wished all sides on this campaign would follow suit.

          • nancycronk says:

            you should see the mature message I just got from Mendoza on facebook. I didn’t ask his permission to share the whole thing, but I don’t imagine he would mind if I share this,

            “I won’t block you. If you comb my record you’ll see I’m an honest person, even if I might be polar opposite from you.

            Democracy is about stating your positions and letting other people vote on those policies.

            Even if I disagree with this guy, I respect him enormously for sticking to his principles. We can all learn from that.

  5. RWhite says:

    Who gives a @#$@ where questions for candidates come from?  When questions about voting records appear it seems like the focus should be about the candidates positions and voting history, not who is asking the question!  

    How long did you guys have to comb through the 30 names to come up with one guy who has something that goes against your beliefs?  Why ignore Rodriguez, Abarca, and so many others?  Or the bigger story Tim Marquez who goes totally against your insane conspiracy theories.  He has no money to gain from DPS since he already gave $50 MM in the form of (HOLD YOUR BREATH) VOUCHERS!!! through the Denver Scholarship Foundation.

    • John Tzekara says:

      when he was posting all over the place with “an important message for our community” that he wasn’t part of.

      Also, what do college scholarships have to do with this?  I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make implying that the scholarship foundation gives out vouchers. They are very different things.  Please let me know if there is something I’m missing here.

      Do you not believe in transparency in politics?  I think it’s very important to know who is funding and pushing attack ads at any level of government.

      • RWhite says:

        I guess that depends on your definitions of a few things.  First “community”.  Its valid that he doesn’t live in Denver, but I think if a Latino does well and lives in a “well to do community” like Castle Rock but gives back, he still has a right to be considered part of the community.  Think about African Americans from ghettos that move out and get criticized for not contributing back.  At least he gives a @#@$!  Even if he is getting paid.

        Second is “vouchers.”  You must be stating that the word voucher only applies to K-12.  Denver Pre School has vouchers and so does Denver Scholarship Foundation.  Why are those okay but somehow K-12 aren’t?  Apparently you would prefer kids get locked into a university system without any choice….or would like to see the pre school system the same way.  Both seem to be doing a good job matching kids with the schools that fit them.

        The “community” seems to be okay with “vouchers” as long as they don’t displace the “monopoly.”

        Do you need that definition?

        • John Tzekara says:

          Because if you are that’s pretty offensive.

          On your rant about vouchers, no it’s not at all the same.  Mr. Mendoza celebrated public money being given to religious schools.  That’s a voucher.

          You’re talking about an individual who gave private money for scholarships.

          One set of money is public, taxpayer dollars.  The other is private.  Get it?

        • sxp151 says:

          It’s actually kind of obvious that this is a REPLY since it’s written in reply and follows the previous comment in the thread.

          Just like it’s kind of obvious that I’m writing a COMMENT and don’t really need to scream that fact.

  6. javi says:

    Uhhhhhh….has it dawned on anyone that everyone commenting here is, um, not Latino?  

    Apparently if you are a Latino that is not a socialist you cant be a Democrat. Better to keep our kids in failing schools and let people like Jimenez and Merida deflect their child abusive voting records on to Mendoza.  

    Never thought I would see Latinos finally stand up for their right to be given equal expectations!  

    As for this Latino, Jennifer has my vote.

    Does anyone know how I sign my name to it?

    • Ralphie says:

      Most of us don’t post photos or real names in our profiles.

      • javi says:

        I never considered that all of this stuff is by people who cant stand behind their positions?  The lies are getting thick!

        • John Tzekara says:

          Odd comment from someone who registers an account today and doesn’t use your name (not saying everyone should, just that it’s rather hypocritical of you).

          • AristotleAristotle says:

            Three – count ‘em, three! – new shill accounts, just to throw out irrelevant distractions. I think you must have really shined a light someplace they’d rather keep shadowy.

            • John Tzekara says:

              Honestly now I’m curious to dig around some more and see if there is anything else to find.  I had planned on this just being one diary, but given the umm…interest in the piece maybe I should write more.

              • GalapagoLarryGalapagoLarry says:

                Some time ago in reference to big outside money trying to take over school districts elsewhere (or in reference to the Koch boys, I don’t remember–same thing) I warned, “coming to a school district near you”. And now it’s here.

                My advice (free and worth every penny): we need to pay more attention to down-ticket races like school boards and secretaries of state, and help make our neighbors and friends aware of the stealth voucher folks coming in under the name of “reform”.  

    • RWhite says:

      You don’t need to be Latino to come out against Latinos…Merida and Jimenez’s votes matter to white, brown, black and combinations of the previous.  

      • GalapagoLarryGalapagoLarry says:

        At least the Republican party data bank thinks I am. My comment, RWhite? Chinga te. No sabes nada de scholarships, obviamente. Es una voz por pago. Y cerca tu madre tengo mucho de comentar.

        (My apologies to all Spanish speakers.)

    • John Tzekara says:

      Given most people use handles, and even if someone posts under their full name (which you clearly don’t), you can’t assume based on a last name.

  7. sxp151 says:

    and are all yelling and screaming in the exact same way.

    Hmmm…

    • dwyer says:

      Made Remarks at Myles Mendoza’s party……to celebrate vouchers in Douglas County!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      I smell money, lots and lots of money.

      Morris wrote a book on how the repubs could win in 2010….Bingo, Morris..well done.  

      I wonder why Morris is interested in the voucher movement????  I wonder how it plays into repub plans to take Colorado for the Republican candidate in 2012??????

      Money, honey…………

      Meantime, back at the ranch, dems are playing “divide and conquer us, please.”

      Let me say for the record, all of this does not have a damm thing to do with kids.  It is big time politics….

  8. DenEdDem says:

    Decent blog on this story from That Other Paper

    http://blogs.denverpost.com/co

    Seems that both sides have supporters who favor vouchers – Jimenez supporter somewhat more directly (penned an op-Ed).

    Also sounds like vouchers have little to nothing to do with the race. Sometimes a diversion is … a  diversion?  

    • RWhite says:

      Will he ask her to step down since he is so against vouchers?  His consistency in stances and respectable campaign would make that a must.  

      Wont go into the mud but a little googling on the other supporters bring up some icky behavior.  

      • John Tzekara says:

        When she does, let me know.  I’ll write that diary.

        • DenEdDem says:

          Don’t think he’ll ask her and not sure she should. Don’t believe anyone seriously thinks vouchers will be an issue in DPS.

          Don’t normally cite him, but V Carroll had a decent perspective here: the “anti-reform” candidates don’t have specifics they argue against. Jimenez now supports charter schools and innovation schools (at least some times). So what are these candidates against?

          http://www.denverpost.com/carr

          Well, seems like Vouchers are the new bogeyman. E Sirota wrote a piece months back in Huff Post trying to link Vouchers to DPS race.  Seems to me like a big distraction.  

    • John Tzekara says:

      Because if she is that’s a story.  You want to go through every endorser of every candidate?  Jose Silva is a rather interesting individual on Draper-Carson’s list…

      • DenEdDem says:

        I don’t think that is what anyone is saying. DP blog: “Jimenez said he firmly believes he represents all of the Latinos…” this groups says that he does not. Here is the press release they sent – decide for yourself:

        —For Immediate Release—

        Arturo JimГ©nez Continues To Hide His Record Opposing Education Reform.

        Denver, (October 10, 2011) – In a recent press release, Arturo JimГ©nez is once again trying to hide his record opposing education reform behind his cultural identity.  

        The press release, perhaps unsurprisingly, does not directly address any statement we made. Nowhere does JimГ©nez respond to the substance of our piece: his series of votes against education reform have blocked policies our children need.

        JimГ©nez voted against ending the placement of teachers no principal would hire into our neighborhood’s worst schools. JimГ©nez voted against reforming DPS discipline policy that had police officers arresting our children for petty offenses. JimГ©nez voted against teachers trying to start innovation schools.  JimГ©nez voted against Federal programs that would have brought additional money to Northwest Denver, and against State programs to change the way teachers are evaluated.  JimГ©nez even repeatedly voted against the two Northwest West Denver Prep campuses that are now the best schools in the region, even as he now falsely tries to take credit for their success.

        Our point was precisely that Arturo JimГ©nez hides this appalling record of votes behind simplistic claims to identity.  And in his press release, Arturo JimГ©nez did exactly that, yet again.

        No one person can claim to speak for the entire Latino community.  Our culture is far more rich and complex than any single individual, and encompasses multiple points of view.  This is a strength, not a weakness. Some people will agree with us, some will not.  But it is educational policy, and not personal identity, that needs to be at the center of both this discussion and the upcoming election.

        We encourage everyone to read the statement on our website (LatinosForEducationReform.org), look at the record, and think for himself/herself. It is the democratic exercise of personal responsibility, and not group identity, that is most important. Think – and vote — not as a member of any one group, but as parents, family members, and neighbors who care first and foremost about the safety and education of our children.

        This is why we believe that education reform needs to continue to move forward and not backwards. Going forward we will focus on supporting candidates that will move all DPS’ students and all Denver families forward.  The names of our candidates are:  Jennifer Draper Carson (District 5), Anne Bye Rowe (District 1) and Allegra “Happy” Haynes (At-Large).

        Latinos for Education Reform

        Forward Not Backward! ВЎNi Un Paso AtrГЎs!

    • sxp151 says:

      Come on now, FOUR accounts created just to comment on this diary? How stupid do you think everyone else is?

      • DenEdDem says:

        I’ve been reading Pols for years, thought this was an interesting piece so created an account and jumped the fence to comment.  Doesn’t everyone do that for the first time at some point?  

        ps – I don’t have a “Native” bumper sticker on my car, either.  

        • sxp151 says:

          but first of all, when four people sign up at the same time to say the same thing, they’re probably all the same person. Secondly, the best way to tell if someone’s genuinely trying to get started as a new commenter vs. just being paid to defend some candidate online is whether they write about more than just the one issue in the one place.  

          • DenEdDem says:

            I don’t know about other people.  This thread is my first post on Pols; I have not commented before or under any other alias.  I am not (and have never been) a paid member of any campaign. That good enough for you?  Can I be part of your club now?

            John wrote a really good and provocative diary, and it’s helpful to get sunlight on the whole issue. I’m for the conversation. Even better without the name-calling.

            Ironically, many of the responses (including yours) are based less on what people write than (speculation) on the appropriateness of their  identity.  And, um, that’s pretty much the criticism against Jimenez that kicked off this whole thing, right?  

  9. dwyer says:

    Are the people listed on the bottom of the ad by Latinos for Education Reform members of the organization or just supporters of the ad?

    Is Latinos for Eduction Reform registered with the Secretary of State?

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