While school board elections may invoke images of bake sale funding and home-printed fliers, Denver’s elections have been anything but for the past decade. This year looks to be no different, with six figures being raised in each race and outside groups spending even more to influence the election. North Denver voters will choose two new members for the Denver School Board: one representing North and West Denver in District 5, and one elected city-wide. A third district in SE Denver is also up for grabs. This year’s election may decide the future of whether Denver Public Schools (DPS) continues down the education reform path or changes course with candidates who have a different vision. The Denver North Star sat down with the three candidates running in District 5 and three running At-Large to get their take on why they felt they were best for the role and the future of DPS.
While the lines are not always clearly drawn, two distinct camps have emerged over the years: those in support of more traditional neighborhood schools and teacher pay structure, and education reform advocates, who have supported more charter schools, alternative licensing and test-based pay structures. While in past years some candidates identified more strongly with the education reform movement, no candidate we interviewed said they fully embraced ed reform this year — with some even rejecting what they called the divisive and “false narrative” between the two philosophies. One candidate called this year’s election a “referendum on education reform.”
That doesn’t mean outside organizations aren’t spending on behalf of candidates they see best aligned with their interests though, and outside spending at times dwarfs what candidates themselves raise.
You can register to vote and check on your ballot at DenverVotes.org, and read more detailed analysis about the campaigns’ financing at Chalkbeat.org/co and CleanSlateNowAction.org, and read our interviews with each of the candidates via the links below.