Who Is In Charge

Reform group makes endorsements

Election 2012 LogoDemocrats for Education Reform has issued its 2012 legislative endorsements, backing three Senate candidates and seven House contenders, all of them Democrats.

All of the candidates endorsed by DFER’s Colorado chapter also have received contributions from political committees related to teachers’ unions.

There’s also considerable overlap between the candidates endorsed by DFER and those supported by Stand for Children, the other education reform interest group that endorses in legislative races. Stand endorsed six Democrats and five Republicans.

In one contest, House District 28 in Lakewood, the two reform groups are on opposite sides of the fence. DFER is backing Democratic community organizer Brittany Pettersen while Stand supports Republican businesswoman Amy Attwood. The race is one of several battleground contests in Jefferson County.

Here are the other candidates endorsed by DFER:


District 18 (Colorado Springs) – Rep. Pete Lee. Also endorsed by Stand, Lee is in a tight race with Republican businesswoman Jennifer George.

District 32 (Adams County) – Dominick Moreno. The mayor pro tem of Commerce City, Moreno faces Republican Paul Reimer, a counselor.

District 42 (Aurora) – Rep. Rhonda Fields. Her name was on several education bills in 2012, and she’s considering possible dropout and truancy legislation for 2013. She faces Republican Mike Donald, a businessman.

District 47 (Pueblo and Otero counties) – Chuck Rodosovich. A former state agency executive, Rodosovich helped found a Pueblo charter school and faces Republican Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff in a closely watched race.

District 50 (Greeley) – Rep. Dave Young. The former teacher faces Republican insurance agent Skip Carlson. Stand endorsed Young.

District 61 (Central mountains) – Rep. Millie Hamner. The former superintendent of the Summit County district, Hamner has emerged as a key figure on major education bills. She’s in a three-way race, facing Republican Debra Irvine and independent Kathleen Curry, who formerly served in the House as a Democrat. Stand also has endorsed Hamner.


District 26 (Arapahoe County) – Sen. Linda Newell. This is considered one of the closest Senate races in the state. Newell faces Republican businessman David Kerber. She was one of the prime sponsors of Senate Bill 12-046, the law that rolls back most zero-tolerance school discipline policies.

District 25 (Adams County) – Sen. Mary Hodge. As a member of the Joint Budget Committee, Hodge is deeply involved with K-12 and higher education funding. Her GOP opponent is retired federal ICE agent John Sampson.

District 35 (San Luis Valley) – Crestina Martinez. A Costilla County commissioner, she faces GOP community activist Larry Crowder. This is another close race.

All three Senate candidates also were endorsed by Stand.

DFER also endorsed Democratic State Board of Education member Angelika Schroeder, who’s running in the 2nd District.

The DFER Advisory Committee, which issued the endorsements, includes such well-known figures as Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, former Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien, State Board of Education member Elaine Gantz Berman and state Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver.


Aurora’s superintendent will get a contract extension

Aurora Public Schools Superintendent Rico Munn. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

The Aurora school board is offering superintendent Rico Munn a contract extension.

Marques Ivey, the school board president, made the announcement during Tuesday’s regular board meeting.

“The board of education believes we are headed in the right direction,” Ivey said. Munn can keep the district going in the right direction, he added.

The contract extension has not been approved yet. Munn said Tuesday night that it had been sent to his lawyer, but he had not had time to review it.

Munn took the leadership position in Aurora Public Schools in 2013. His current contract is set to expire at the end of June.

Munn indicated he intends to sign the new contract after he has time to review it. If he does so, district leaders expect the contract to be on the agenda of the board’s next meeting, April 3, for a first review, and then for a vote at the following meeting.

Details about the new offer, including the length of the extension or any salary increases, have not been made public.

Four of the seven members currently on the board were elected in November as part of a union-supported slate. Many voiced disapproval of some of the superintendent’s reform strategies such as his invitation to charter school network DSST to open in Aurora.

In their first major vote as a new board, the board also voted against the superintendent’s recommendation for the turnaround of an elementary school, signaling a disagreement with the district’s turnaround strategies.

But while several Aurora schools remain low performing, last year the district earned a high enough rating from the state to avoid a path toward state action.

cooling off

New York City charter leader Eva Moskowitz says Betsy DeVos is not ‘ready for prime time’

PHOTO: Chalkbeat
Success Academy CEO and founder Eva Moskowitz seemed to be cooling her support for U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

In New York City, Eva Moskowitz has been a lone voice of support for the controversial U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. But even Moskowitz appears to be cooling on the secretary following an embarrassing interview.

“I believe her heart is in the right place,” Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy, said of DeVos at an unrelated press conference. “But as the recent interviews indicate, I don’t believe she’s ready for primetime in terms of answering all of the complex questions that need to be answered on the topic of public education and choice.”

That is an apparent reference to DeVos’s roundly criticized appearance on 60 Minutes, which recently aired a 30-minute segment in which the secretary admits she hasn’t visited struggling schools in her tenure. Even advocates of school choice, DeVos’s signature issue, called her performance an “embarrassment,” and “Saturday Night Live” poked fun at her.  

Moskowitz’s comments are an about-face from when the education secretary was first appointed. While the rest of the New York City charter school community was mostly quiet after DeVos was tapped for the position, Moskowitz was the exception, tweeting that she was “thrilled.” She doubled-down on her support months later in an interview with Chalkbeat.

“I believe that education reform has to be a bipartisan issue,” she said.

During Monday’s press conference, which Success Academy officials called to push the city for more space for its growing network, Moskowitz also denied rumors, fueled by a tweet from AFT President Randi Weingarten, that Success officials had recently met with members of the Trump administration.

Shortly after the election, Moskowitz met with Trump amid speculation she was being considered for the education secretary position. This time around, she said it was “untrue” that any visits had taken place.

“You all know that a while back, I was asked to meet with the president-elect. I thought it was important to take his call,” she said. “I was troubled at the time by the Trump administration. I’m even more troubled now. And so, there has been no such meeting.”