Who Is In Charge

Ludwig appears to eke out win

Updated 1 p.m. Wednesday – Democratic incumbent University of Colorado Regent Stephen Ludwig had 47.2 percent of the vote compared to 45 percent for Republican challenger Brian Davidson, according to unofficial totals reported by the Department of State.

PHOTO: Rachel Greiman/Green Chair Stories
Stephen Ludwig, seeking a second term on the CU Board of Regents, gathered with Democrats in downtown Denver Tuesday for an election watch party. Photo / Joe Mahoney

Ludwig, interviewed at a packed and noisy gathering of Democrats in downtown Denver, said the race was too close to call at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, when fewer votes had been tabulated.

He said he visited all 64 counties in his campaign for re-election but that “people don’t know what a regent is or what a regent does.”

In the contest for an open seat in the 3rd District, Democrat Jessica Garrow of Carbondale lost to Republican Glenn Gallegos. Democrat Irene Griego was successful in defense of her 7th District seat against Republican Mary Dambman. GOP incumbent Kyle Hybl didn’t have Democratic opposition in the 5th District.

Two seats for the State Board of Education also were on the ballot. In the 2nd District, incumbent Democrat Angelika Schroeder easily beat Republican Ann Fattor. In the 4th District, Republican Pamela Mazanec of Larkspur didn’t face a Democratic candidate.

The outcome of the election isn’t expected to alter the philosophical balance on the State Board of Education, given that Mazanec is unopposed and that three board Republicans and two Democrats are in the middle of their terms.

But board dynamics are expected to be different after the election because Republican Bob Schaffer, one of the panel’s most outspoken members, chose not to run again and will be leaving. Schaffer is a former congressman and unsuccessful GOP candidate for U.S. Senate.

CU races

The at-large regents race was an intramural bout – Ludwig is a CU-Colorado Springs grad and once worked in the university president’s office, and Davidson holds multiple CU degrees and works as a physician and faculty member at the university’s Anschutz Medical Center.

The race was also a grudge match because Ludwig beat Davidson by a very narrow margin in 2006.

In the 3rd District, Garrow, an Aspen city planner and a CU-Boulder graduate, ran a well-financed campaign against Gallegos, an executive for a family construction business who worked for more than 25 years as a teacher, coach, principal and instruction director in the Eagle and Mesa County school districts. He formerly served on the Mesa State board of trustees. The district has been represented by Republican former legislator Tilman Bishop of Grand Junction.

In the 7th District, Griego, a former principal and area superintendent in the Jeffco schools, was appointed last year to fill a vacancy on the Board of Regents. She has a bachelor’s degree from CU-Boulder and a doctorate from the Denver campus. Dambman, a former teacher, served three terms in the state House during the 1980s and was a member of the education committee.

Hybl is a Colorado Springs lawyer and civic leader who graduated from CU-Boulder and also received his law degree there. He has served two terms as chair of the regents.

State Board background

A former college professor of accounting, Schroeder was appointed to the SBE in 2008 and elected to a partial term in 2010. She was running for her first full term. She is a former member of the Boulder Valley School Board, various Colorado Association of Schools Boards committees and the Alliance for Quality Teaching.

Fattor, a self-employed graphic artist, is a former member of the Gilpin County school board and previously served as president of the CASB. She’s chair of the Gilpin County Republican Party.

As a Douglas County resident, Mazanec has been an active supporter of the conservative Douglas County school board in its efforts to create a voucher program and reduce the power of the teachers’ union.


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.”