Once again as a longtime resident of the city of Denver and the Montbello Green Valley Ranch community, I am compelled to post this article encouraging everyone who is eligible to vote to be sure to do so. Since I live in Montbello I want to especially encourage members of the Montbello community to vote. In Montbello, we have already witnessed many of our community schools be replaced with charter schools or be forced to share their space with them. No matter where you stand on the issue of charter schools and neighborhood schools it is extremely important that you exercise your right to vote. It will make our community better and stronger.
The winner of the School Board At-Large seat race in Denver between Allegra “Happy” Haynes and Robert Speth will be determined this Tuesday, November 3, 2015. According to the information you received that was enclosed with your ballot, the Montbello Recreation Center is a Voter Service and Polling Center (VSPC) so you may drop off your completed ballot there. The dates and operating hours of the VSPC are stated on the “HOW TO RETURN YOUR BALLOT” card that is included with the ballot you received.
Therefore, if you live in Montbello and would like to drop off your ballot rather than mail it, the closest location for that is probably the Montbello Recreation Center, which is located at 15555 E 53rd Ave. Voters can check to determine for sure whether this is the location that is closest to them. However, the most important thing is that you vote. Remember that if you intend to mail your ballot mail service can sometimes take longer than one might expect; therefore, you should allow ample time for your ballot to reach its destination in order to be sure that your vote will be received on time and will count.
I mentioned in my post dated 10/24/2015 that many community members are concerned about how Denver schools are run, about testing and test scores, teachers rights, charter schools and more. There are two key drivers behind most of the things that I just mentioned. One is two federal programs, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Common Core and the other is a conservative agenda versus a liberal agenda. NCLB and Common Core have been accepted by all parties concerned, although grudgingly by some, and each of these agendas is supported by Democratic and Republican voters.
Just like, as I mentioned in my October 24th post, there is nothing inherently wrong with being a pro-reform school board member, there is nothing inherently wrong with NCLB and Common Core. Neither is there anything wrong with a conservative agenda or a liberal agenda per se; but because the voices of all constituent stakeholders should be heard and acted upon that means that common ground must be sought until a reasonable balance can be reached.
The real problem with NCLB and especially Common Core is that they infringe on teachers’ ability to teach and assure that students learn because of the laser-like focused specific learning demands that they make regarding what and how students learn. At the same time – according to teachers, the standards specified in these programs, if one can call them that, are verbose and unclear. As regards a conservative agenda versus a liberal agenda, most liberals believe that the conservative agenda is driven more by money than it is by some school districts’ desire to assure that students receive the best education possible.
Unfortunately – whether or not liberals are right in their assessment of these school districts, just as it is with almost everything else that in anyway involves politics, money is in the mix and all one really has to do is follow the money to find the true answer to what is determining as well as who is trying to control the direction that we take in educating our children. This does not mean that our politicians are not concerned with assuring that American children receive a top-quality education. What it does mean, however, is that politicians can neither just continue to blindly move forward with programs like NCLB and Common Core because powerful people are pushing them nor can they play partisan politics and blindly support their party’s conservative or liberal position.
Although it is a recall effort and not a regular election, what is happening with the Jefferson County School Board runs parallel to what has been going on with the DPS School Board for years now. Therefore, it puts a spotlight on Allegra “Happy” Haynes, who is an incumbent DPS School Board member, and Robert Speth particularly because of each candidates current perspective on charter schools and neighborhood schools; perspectives which do not seem to be that far apart. In the event that you might be interested, the article on the Jefferson County School Board recall effort is in the New York Times and is entitled “Proxy War Erupts Over a Conservative School Board.” You can read it in its entirety by typing the title into your browser search box and clicking the search button.
Because Mr. Speth in essence has branded himself as the obvious alternative to Ms. Haynes because he is not supported by big money, because of where he stands on the issues and because of his commitment to listen to community members and incorporate their input into his decision-making, I reached out to him and offered him the opportunity to state his position on those issues in this blog. In addition, in the event that he did not want to speak on that subject, I said that he could address any other subject relevant to the race between he and Ms. Haynes. I did not receive a response.
Whether Ms. Haynes wins or whether Mr. Speth wins voters should demand that the victorious candidate listen to the voices of students, teachers and community members and not just that of big money. We must insist that the winning candidate place a top-quality education for students ahead of their political ambitions.