Despite the popular belief that money and endorsements win most campaigns, long-time educator and underdog, Val Flores, proved this wrong yesterday and won the Democratic primary for the State Board of Education District 1 seat. The 17.86% margin victory came last night despite a long list of Democratic establishment candidates and national money from Walton Family Foundation-funded non-profit, Education Reform Now.
Valentina 'Val' Flores 58.93% 22,412
Taggart Hansen 41.07% 15,621
Votes Cast 38,033
June 16 Secretary of State Report: Total Raised by Candidates
Val Flores $16,936.00
Taggert Hansen $27,740.52
List of Taggert Hansen's Endorsers
Mayor Michael Hancock
Sen. Michael Johnston
State BOE District 1, Elaine Gantz-Berman
Dr. Sharon Bailey
On top of that, Hansen had $70,000 kicked into the soft side by Democrats for Education Reform and ground support from corporate reformers Stand for Children. See more in my previous post at - http://coloradopols.com/diary/59638/taggert-hansen-and-dfer-puppets-to-wal-marts-campaign-to-privatize-public-educaiton-and-bust-unions
So why did Val win?
Was it because she is Latino?
Was it because she was a long time teacher?
Was it the Ph.D?
Was it the solid group of grassroots volunteers that propelled her through the county assembly and never stopped?
Was it the message?
By the title and my questions, I am sure you know what I think. Val had the right profile and the right experience. She also got financial support for teachers unions, but just enough to compete. Most importantly, however, she had a hardcore team of volunteers - something that DFER/astroturf candidates didn't have. On top of that, her message had appeal with Democratic primary goers.
What was Val's message?
Support excellence in teaching. I’ve taught most of my life helping future teachers prepare for the classroom. Every student deserves a quality teacher and every teacher deserves the support and respect of the community. Young teachers need longer mentoring periods, including internships with experienced master teachers and in school teaching supervisors to ensure that they learn best practices and can apply these skills to the classroom. We need to continually use a range of evaluating support systems in the classroom and quickly provide teachers with feedback on how they can improve their skills and become effective teachers. Research shows that keeping experienced teachers in the classroom is a far better and more economical practice, saving money in the long run. Replacing experienced teachers is irresponsible, costly and harmful to our students. The latest research studies show that it takes three to five years for most teachers to reach their stride in this profession. We need to stop the ceaseless firing and opportunistic removal of experienced teachers in the Denver Public Schools and other districts across Colorado. Ensuring every student has quality, experienced teachers is the first step to closing the achievement gap.
I oppose the corporatization and privatization of our public education system and high stakes testing. These practices benefit vendors and major corporations – not our students. We must ensure classroom time is quality learning time which gives every student the best chance possible to succeed. We must put a stop to the radical privatization Douglas County has started and ensure other districts across the state do not follow suit.
Finally, we must support our free public schools and make sure that this beacon of democracy is not sold to the highest bidder on Wall Street. Every child should have the right to attend their neighborhood public school."
It looks like the corporate education reformers are showing their cracks in Denver. While having a strong message on what is needed to improve public education, Val also effectively messaged what we don't want. Polling of the Democratic base in Denver has consistently shown that they oppose corporate influence in public education and they are resistant to high stakes testing. I just don't think that candidates have been so willing to explicitly state this until now.
They also might be influence by pieces in the news over the last few years about:
Takeovers of other boards of education like JeffCo, DougCo, Adams 12, Big Thompson, and others.
What JeffCo School Board Is Doing Is Shameful http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_25367409/what-jeffco-school-board-is-doing-is-shameful
Plaintiffs: Dougco voucher program thwarts constitution http://co.chalkbeat.org/2014/05/30/plaintiffs-dougco-voucher-program-thwarts-constitution/#.U6tUhfldWSo
Mass firings of teachers in Denver.
Colorado Teachers Challenge Mass Firings http://www.courthousenews.com/2014/02/03/65049.htm
Denver Public School teachers speak out against losing jobs http://www.denverpost.com/ci_23264782/denver-public-schools-teachers-speak-out-against-losing
The removal experienced teachers from the classroom in Denver.
Teachers Fight Back Against Denver Public Schools in Court http://www.westword.com/2014-04-10/news/teacher-lawsuit-against-dps/
Black Teachers Fired - http://www.blackagendareport.com/category/education-public-education/black-teachers-fired
The persistent achievement gap that is not being addressed by corporate reform.
At Denver flagship high school shocking achievment gaps http://co.chalkbeat.org/2014/04/08/at-denvers-flagship-high-school-shocking-achievement-gaps-and-small-steps-forward/
DPS: Segregation Now, Segregation Forever? http://blog.ednewscolorado.org/2011/05/16/dps-segregation-now-segregation-forever
There are many more things to say, but I think you all are more than ready to add some comments. Thanks for taking the time to read my post.