My name is Tay Anderson and I am running to be your next At-Large representative on the Denver School Board this November!
Four years ago, I was in a student leadership retreat trying to find my voice as a student. I was told that Manual High School would be forced to co-locate due to low enrollment. School Board Member - Happy Haynes said “This decision has already been made by the School Board and you all need to tell your peers this is happening.” I didn’t agree with this so I stood up and asked “How do we get a student on the School Board to represent our voices.” She replied “You need to be 18 years old and run like the rest of us.”
Now, four years have passed and I am now running to replace Happy Haynes on the Denver School Board. I am a DPS educator, community organizer, and DPS graduate. It’s time to send someone to the Denver School Board to fight for the students.
My entire career has been about serving the people of Colorado -- I have served in leadership roles in the Colorado Democratic Party, gun violence prevention boards, and in the Colorado House of Representatives. In the future, my plans are to follow in the footsteps of my grandmother and become a teacher at my alma mater Manual High School.
I am running with you. You are running with me. We are running together for the Denver School Board, because I am a direct product of the public school system in Denver. I have lived through the FAILED policies of Denver Public Schools as a student and now as an educator. I have experienced first-hand how hard it is to navigate the “choice” system. I understand what it means to have to choose between lunch or a bus ticket. I want to ensure that all students have a thriving neighborhood school, all educators are paid a living wage, and to give the School Board back to the people of Denver.
Finally, I am running to bring your voices to the Denver School Board. I hope you will join me as we begin to build a brighter future for all Denver students!
All of DPS schools should have adequate funding and resources to address the needs of their students. We must start by providing schools with the foundational resources to help them succeed. Teachers and support staff who are supported and paid a livable wage, mental health supports in every school, a nurse in every school, classrooms that are supplied with the tools they need to provide an education. We can accomplish this by looking at our budget and our actuals. By cutting overhead at the administrative level we can reallocate funding so that we are providing our schools, staff and students with what they need to succeed and to identify those in need of more support.
If there is anything that the teachers’ strike showed, it is that teachers want a voice because they see first-hand what their students need. Therefore, the first thing I would do to incentivize local, experienced teachers is to make sure they are allowed to collectively bargain. If a school is receiving any public dollars, they should have to allow their educators to unionize. It is a basic right and it is fundamental to our students’ success.
We also need to homegrow our educators: We must do a better job of identifying students who want to be future educators, and help them concurrently enroll on the Auraria Campus to accelerate their degree. Then they can return to their communities and really connect with their students. We must be intentional about recruiting educators of color and improve our reputation of how we treat and retain teachers of color.
I have been outspoken that we need to pay our school staff more. $12/hour in Denver is not a livable wage. Many of our staff are also parents of our students. We know that poverty is a huge obstacle to student achievement, so why are we perpetuating it? I would like to see that money come from cuts to the central office, especially the marketing department. We have to recruit and retain educators of color and ensure they have an ongoing voice through collective bargaining. We have to end the school-to-prison-pipeline that disproportionately hurts LatinX and Black students. We have to make sure that IEPs are developed with the student, family, teachers, and staff in a way that is specific and holistic. We have to make sure our ESL classes are the absolute best in the nation. We have to meet students where they are at and make them leaders in their own interests and education.
I think our current "choice" doesn't actually provide a real choice to parents. It is full of confusing information and lacks context or transparency. It is based on the assumption that transportation isn't a barrier to families and children. It is based on the assumption that the right to a high-quality education can best be achieved through market competition. I think the argument about "parent's rights" is therefore done in bad faith and is an unhelpful way to approach what our parents and students are struggling with right now.
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I came to this nation as a refugee who fled war, death, and poverty without speaking a word of English. I know first hand what it means to fight for the American Dream and how important education is to personal success. If elected, I will advocate for the future of our great and welcoming city by ensuring access to quality education. I am running to be the next Denver School Board Representative At-Large - so that we have better schools for all.
I was born in Uzbekistan. The first 11 years of my life were spent growing up in a former Soviet state just after the fall of the Soviet Union. At a young age, I was painfully aware of what an authoritative government can do to its people. Very few girls were allowed to attend school, I was one of the lucky ones. But school was not a priority and officials would routinely pull all of the students out of class during the harvest season to pick cotton in the fields. After the fall of the regime, my family applied for refugee status to the United States due to religious and political persecution. We spent almost nine years waiting before we were granted asylum. Once granted status, my family purchased tickets with what little we had, we left everything behind, and arrived to an uncertain future in America. Colorado was the state that accepted us then, and it is the place I am still so proud to call my home today.
Denver area schools were an anchor through turbulent times. From middle school on, it was the place that not only helped me learn and grow as a person, but also taught me everything I needed to know about this great country and enabled me to become a citizen. It took years of hard work and dedication, but I am proud of the education I received and I am grateful for the teachers that helped me through those years. The Public School system forever positively impacted my life - and I will not forget that lesson on our School Board. Early on in life, I developed a deep desire to give back to the community that had given so much to me. In High School, I volunteered with an after-school program for immigrant children to provide insight on ways to make their transition smoother. At the age of 14 I began translating paperwork for my family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers trying to navigate our complex system of legal documents; and even do this till this day! After High School, I attended Metro State where I received a Bachelors in Political Science with an emphasis on Communication. While attending Metro I started teaching at a vocational school, where I have been and continue to teach for the past 12 years. I also became a volunteer with CASA and help advocate for children who lose their parents to court rulings.
I have worked on marketing campaigns for AARP and am currently a National Campaign Manager for KeVita - the parent company for Kombucha Brands. Coming to America without speaking English to eventually oversee a component of a national company is tough, and our Denver area schools taught me how to do it. This makes me believe in our education system in a way few others do right now - because I am one of the a success stories of public education.
Once I graduated from college, I put my degree to use. I went out to Washington DC where I was a research associate, a liaison to the US Congress for the immigrant community, and an advocate for the elderly. After a few years in DC, I needed to return to Colorado, my true home, to be closer to my mother and the rest of my family. My mother had always been one of my greatest inspirations. In Uzbekistan, she was a leading pediatrician and lecturer at the university. She was the first to instill in me how meaningful and impactful an education could be.
It's time to take these lessons from my childhood and become a force for change at DPS! I am running for the Denver Public School Board at Large to advocate for better schools for all: not just for students, not just for teachers, not just for staff, but for all. We must invest in our schools because better schools today mean a stronger and brighter future tomorrow. If anyone knows how important education is, it's me. I will fight to solve the problems in our schools, so that students today get the support they need today and become the leaders we need tomorrow.
After school programs that exist now are primarily there for students to wait until their parents pick them up. We can utilize that time, bring in volunteers who can assist and support the students with their homework. When there is additional support that is needed for students, when we integrate the teachers the parents and the students and cultivate an environment where everyone can express their concerns and know that they are being heard, then we can create better schools for all.
Focusing on acknowledging and making sure we recognize those teachers that are inspiring students and creating amazing individuals. As an educator I know first hand how important it is to recognize those who are going above and beyond. Teachers do not go into education to become rich and famous, we need to focus on respecting our educators and making sure they are compensated appropriately.
As an immigrant with an accent, funny sounding name, and little knowledge of English, there were numerous occasions where I had a hard time proving myself. I know first hand what it fells like to be an outsider, someone who feels they are not good enough to fit with the crowd. I want every child in the DPS system to receive the necessary tools, in order to overcome the achievement gaps and create success stories. Because by empowering students and preparing them for success we create better schools for all.
The parents should have a say as to what and where their students are obtaining the best education possible. Every parent wants what is best for their child and should have the right to make that choice. As a community we need to make sure that we create better schools for all. Once we have strong local schools where teachers have the resources they need, the students are inspired to learn and the parents are involved in their child's education, we will not have the question of school choice. When we have better schools for all, public, private, charter won’t matter. We’ve been trying for decades to fix the DPS by converting schools in and out of programs. There’s a path forward here for DPS to have schools that every Coloradan wishes they could send their student to.