It seems that ColoradoPols is consistently lacking real background behind education reform unless it is affecting the the typical D vs. R. dynamic. So I figured I would try out a post. In Denver Public Schools and urban districts around the country, there is effectively no two-party system. What we have is a low turnout primary process to elect who will walk into the office in the fall and very contentious school board elections.
What is now consistent, is that office holders who are affiliated Democrats are becoming more and more willing to turn over public funds to privately managed Charter Management Organizations, fire and displace teachers who have been rated as effective, ignore the requests of parents and community members, and bust teachers unions. Why is this happening? They want to get elected, and they don't have the real information.
Well, in order to get elected, money helps a whole lot. The folks who are attacking public education have a whole lot of it. Think of all of the Democrats for Education Reform (DEFRs) in Colorado and the country who fit this mold:
- Senator Michael Bennet
- State Senator Michael Johnston
- Former D.C. Public Schools Chancellor, Michelle Rhee
- Chicago Mayor Rahm Immanuel
- DPS Board of Education, Happy Haynes, Barbara O'Brien, Anne Rowe, Rosemary Rodriguez, Michael Johnson, and Landri Taylor.
- Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan
Wow! This is a pretty powerful group. It must be that they really know what is best for education. Or maybe that they have tons of secret money coming from billionaires, right wingers, and Wall Street/hedge fund managers. If you look at their policies, they are all that different from George W. Bush, Chris Christie, and other big name Republicans. Let's meet the newest person who is supported by this big money in the current Democratic primary for the State Board of Education District 1, Taggert Hansen.
Bio from his website:
"After college, I taught sixth grade as a public school teacher in the second largest district in California. As a teacher (of two years through Teach For America – added by writer), I learned the importance of creating a community of shared vision for educating children and empowering them to learn, and the importance of partnerships between teachers, parents and administrators. I learned that some of my “trouble students” were in fact some of the brightest in the class with enormous potential – it’s just that no one had looked beyond the label and encouraged them to excel and dream of achieving greatness." Citation: http://tagghansen.nationbuilder.com/
Valentina Flores, Ph.D
"First and foremost, I am an educator who has worked in education for 43 years. With a background as a public school teacher, an education policy analyst, a curriculum development and implementation professional, and professor at several universities, I am uniquely qualified to bring my 43 years of experience to the Colorado State Board of Education." Citation: http://valflores.com/val/
It may seem that a 41 year educator and Latina might be a more obvious choice for the position, but WAIT . . . . . there's more in her website bio.
"I oppose big money and corporatization in our public education system. I oppose high stakes testing that takes away valuable classroom learning time. I opcpose a “reform” model that is slowly privatizing our public education system. We cannot allow free public education to be traded on NASDAQ and sold to the highest bidder."
Is that why outside money is coming in to buy the State Board of Education race just like the DPS, JeffCo and DougCo school board races? Check this out. Suddenly a new 501 (c)4 organization called Raising Colorado shows up dropping mail for Taggert Hansen. Where did this come from? It was opened by Jennifer Walmer, DFER CO Director and former DPS Chief of Staff, and is funded by Education Reform Now, the (c)3 charitable non-profit from New York, that is funded by the Walmart Foundation (Walton Family Foundation – http://www.waltonfamilyfoundation.org/about/2013-grant-report). So that's the soft side.
What about Taggert's direct campaign donors? (Source - http://tracer.sos.colorado.gov/PublicSite/SearchPages/FilingDetail.aspx?FilingID=174825) Here are a couple:
- Stand for Children (opposed Senators Andy Kerr and Evie Hudak and Representatives Kagan and Pettersen in 2012) in support of Republicans who oppose school funding and support union busting. They are at it again. Check out their endorsements including anti-tax right wingers – http://stand.org/colorado/2014-education-champions. Also support by the Walton Family Foundation - http://www.waltonfamilyfoundation.org/2012-education-reform-grants-by-investment-region.
- Leadership for Education Equity - A D.C. based non-profit with a board that includes Matt Kramer, President of Teach for America (Funded by Walton – http://www.waltonfamilyfoundation.org/grantees/teach-for-america) and Arthur Rock (Hedge fund manager who played heavily in DPS school board in 2013).
It is hard to explain how far Walmart's reach has gone since with the advent of Citizens United and the abuse of the non-profit system to hide their money. No questions about it, it is time for the Democratic base to decide what being a Democrat means.