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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Denver Public Schools Board of Directors District #1

The Denver Public Schools Board of Education has seven directors that are elected to four-year staggered terms. Five of the directors represent districts within Denver and two represent Denver at large.Three seats are up for election, Director Districts 1 and 5, and an At Large seat. Board candidates run on a not-partisan basis.Denver Decides Candidate Forum, October 2, 2019:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0GGg55yU74

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  • Candidate picture

    Scott Balderman
    (NP)

  • Candidate picture

    Diana Romero Campbell
    (NP)

  • Candidate picture

    Radhika Nath
    (NP)

Biographical Information

How would you help schools whose students need additional support?

What can DPS do to attract and retain high quality teachers?

What measures would you use to achieve greater racial and economic equity in DPS?

What is your view on school choice?

Background I was raised in Aurora, Colorado and went to public neighborhood schools. I walked to Arkansas Elementary where I was the President of the Student Council in 5th grade. I went to Mrachek Middle School and graduated from Rangeview High School. I studied architecture at the University of Nebraska and I graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Architectural Studies in 1998 and a Masters in Architecture in 2000. I spent the next seven years working in architecture firms and I became a licensed architect in 2007. I knew my passion though was in software. I left the architecture profession to build Attolist — a web-based collaboration tool that streamlined document review processes in construction. I bootstrapped the company and by 2012 the company had grown to six employees. The company was acquired and I exited the business in 2015. My next two years were spent being a stay-at-home dad with my daughter who was 1 year old. My wife Amy, focused on building her graphic design business. My daughter entered the Preschool Program at Lincoln Elementary when she was three and my involvement at Lincoln and the PTA began.
Contact e-mail contact@scott4schools.org
Contact phone 720-213-8182
Twitter @Scott4Schools
We need equity in school funding and increased whole child support at every school. My plan will ensure every student is supported in and out of school by providing equitable funding, core resources, staff, services and curriculum. I would like to 1) introduce School Board resolutions to require comprehensive mental health programs and whole child support at every school. 2) Increase current student funding allocations for free and reduced lunch, English language learners and gifted and talented students and twice-exceptional students. 3) Introduce student funding allocations for individual education plans or 504 plans (SPED). This way, dedicated funds will follow students who require additional resources for access to education. 4) Strategically locate community schools and community zones that host family opportunity centers throughout the City of Denver, especially in the city’s most marginalized areas.
The employment turnover for teachers was 21% and paraprofessionals was 35% last school year. This is substantially higher than neighboring school districts. When teachers are supported by their district, everyone benefits—especially students. I would like to 1) Build a positive working relationship between the District and the DCTA (teacher’s union). They must begin negotiating immediately for the 2022 Master Agreement. 2) Decrease District required data entry for teachers, so more time can be dedicated to lesson planning and culturally responsive training. 3) Remove financial hurdles to the para-to-teacher program. Any paraprofessional that wants to become a licensed teacher should have the opportunity. 4) Immediately increase paraprofessional compensation at all levels to address the 35% turnover rate. Starting pay is currently $13.69/hour. We can do much better. 5) End the common practice of teachers paying for classroom supplies from their own pockets by properly resourcing schools
The current Student-Based-Budgeting instituted by DPS is causing schools to be under-resourced, especially those in marginalized communities. My Action Plan will ensure every student is supported in and out of school by providing funding, core resources, staff, services and curriculum. I also believe we must increase the current student allocation for Free and Reduced Lunch and English Language Learners. Additionally, we must institute initiatives that increase diversity among administrators, teachers, and staff. Currently 2⁄3 of paraprofessionals are people of color and the turnover rate was 35% in 2018. This is our pipeline for getting more teachers of color into classrooms. We need to remove all financial hurdles to the para-to-teacher program. This will cultivate a community of educators that more accurately represents Denver’s student community. We must also immediately increase paraprofessional compensation. Starting pay is currently $13.69/hour. We can do better.
I support parents choosing what school program and curriculum is best for their child. However, as a board member I would like to eliminate the culture of competition among schools. With competition there will always be a loser and within a public school system everyone should be a winner. We accomplish this by first equitably investing in core resources, staff, services and curriculum at every school. At a minimum, every school should have full-time health professionals, social workers, psychologists and other core Special Service Providers. These core essentials should not be left to the discretion of a school principal or charter school director -- this should be mandated by School Board policy.
Background I am a daughter of southeast Denver. I was born and raised in my community, and I chose to raise my family in the same community. I am a proud Denverite, a DPS graduate, a DPS mom of two children, and the daughter of a retired DPS teacher. My entire life has been dedicated to service. After serving in Honduras with the Peace Corps, I dedicated my career to working in the Denver Metro nonprofit community for over 20 years. I’ve worked for organizations that aim to improve the lives of women, children, youth, and families including the Colorado Children’s Campaign, Colorado Bright Beginnings, Family Star Montessori, Mile High United Way, and now Scholars Unlimited. I have worked in partnership with communities and organizations to address systemic barriers for children and caregivers throughout the state. I am running to serve on the school board because I have a deep commitment to education and I love our community. My life’s work has given me deep expertise with early childhood education policy, and my experience as a parent and nonprofit leader will be an asset to the board, the district, and the students and families we serve. For the last decade, I have led on policy initiatives to innovate and build better systems for kids in Denver, including the Denver Preschool Program and quality after-school care. I am proud that our efforts have positively impacted the lives of many of our DPS children, and as a board member I want to ensure that all students in District 1 achieve their full potential and thrive.
Contact e-mail Diana@DianaforDPS.com
Contact phone 720-382-0007
Twitter @dianafordps
I am insistent that all children in Denver Public Schools deserve to be held to high expectations. I believe that when community sets those expectations and goals, we can work together to meet them. The district recently engaged a broad group of community, parent, and teacher leaders who are developing recommendations on how the district should proceed with the school performance framework (SPF). I believe that students should progress in their education each year, and a strong accountability system will help ensure that work happens for all our children. We must also ensure that schools have the additional resources to support the social emotional and mental health needs of their student population. Listening and working with students, families, and educators will inform my decisions.
Teacher recruitment and retention will be my top priority. I believe that in a district of over 92,000 students, we can and should recruit our future teacher leaders, particularly teachers of color, from the brilliance that exists within our community. Specifically, we must build a recruitment pipeline with intentionality that builds leadership to prepare students and community leaders to become educators. I will also work to recruit and hire former DPS students when they come back. The retention of teachers is critical, especially our teachers of color. As the daughter of public school educators I know how dedicated teachers are to their students. We need to change our culture to honor their lived experiences and elevate the profession. Our teachers of color need intentional support to continue to thrive as educators and school leaders. Research shows that students of color excel when they have role models that look like them.
We must be intentional and relentlessly committed to dismantling the systemic injustices that are embedded with dominant cultural values in our district. No one person will end institutional racism alone, but when we work together we can address the harms caused by these injustices. I stand ready to name and call out the racial, economic, and social disparities that exist within DPS as a board member, but simply naming the problems will not be enough. I bring an intersectional lens to my work, and am also ready to work alongside others to collaboratively develop policies that reflect the voices of the diverse communities we serve — knowing that what might work in one school will not necessarily work in the next. Furthermore, I also believe that we should proactively recruit future teachers of color from within DPS, and will work to build that pipeline of future brilliance from within our current pool of students.
I believe strongly in supporting high quality public schools. I am opposed to for-profit charters and believe that just like our traditional schools, our public charters must be transparent, accountable, and community-led. I believe that the same rules should apply to all schools, regardless of whether they are charter schools or traditional schools. All our public schools must be held accountable to prepare all our children for a life of opportunity. As a parent, I am not about to take away choices from other parents, and I respect families’ right to choose the best school that makes the most sense for their child.

Background I am running for school board because every child deserves the opportunities that a high quality public education provides. I am a mother of two neuro-diverse children who attend my neighborhood public school- Samuels Elementary. Samuels is a Title 1 school in district 1. Our schools are not equitably resourced. DPS schools are creating an un-level playing field that hamper the success and eventual upward mobility of many children in our schools. These children are disproportionately minority, non-native English speakers, foster children, and children with disabilities. We need systemic change as this level of disparity destabilizes our social fabric. Our society does better when all our children flourish and achieve their full potential. Before I ran for school board, I worked as a policy and data expert. I have a doctorate in public policy. I am community activist who has fought for healthcare, rights for people with disabilities and social justice. As the only grassroots candidate in this race, I am accountable to the community and no other special interest. Please go to radfored.org and find out how you can join this fight to strengthen public schools for our children. Together we can create a better DPS where children have the joy of learning, teachers feel respected and communities thrive around our quality neighborhood schools.
Contact e-mail rad@radfored.org
Contact phone 720.984.7450
Twitter @DrRadhikaNath
Schools, where students have higher-needs students, should not be subject to the same CMAS-based SPF rating. There are children with disabilities and DPS places them in "center" programs, rather than include them in Gen Ed. There are children with learning challenges in our classrooms and DPS won't use evidence-based reading methodologies or even the term "Dyslexia". DPS culture needs to be one of pro-active supports with parent and community inclusion. As a disability rights advocate, I would fight for more inclusion and more dedicated resources such as mental health, and other student-touch experts like therapists, social workers, academic interventionists. When we help the most vulnerable of our children, every child benefits.
We need to elevate the profession of teaching. We need to pay our licensed and experienced professionals better. We are last in the nation for teacher pay at present. If we paid teachers better, they would be able to live in the community and be able to care for their families. Teachers should not have to teach to the test and be penalized for student performance when students are not receiving equal opportunities to succeed. The CMAS is a culturally biased test and it is clear that the test results are best predicted by the socio-economic status of the students. We need to attract more teachers of color. We need to allow teachers to continue their professional development and not to cap pay at an arbitrary experience level. We need to create an anti-racist culture in DPS. We need a more enriched curriculum. Charters are exempt from 15 regulations, mostly related to collective bargaining. All teachers should be able to unionize.
In district 1, 30% of our elementary schools, 50% of our middle and high schools are high poverty. We need a system by which all schools, and especially high-poverty schools, can have high-quality teachers, instruction and extra funding to help those children who start from a deficit. We need our teaching force to be diverse so that they can understand the experiences of all of our children. We need more creative loan-forgiveness programs to attract university-trained teachers of color into the profession. The current system of enrollment-based funding with some Title 1 (for poverty) is not equitable and not working for our children. Class sizes need to be smaller, more arts, more enrichment, more academic & learning interventions, more mental health, more nurses, more therapists and resources need to be directed to children who are arriving with less. We need Montessori play-based learning models for all our children. All our children should have the opportunity to succeed in life.
In SE Denver, here is how distinct our high-poverty elementary schools look compared to the not-high-poverty elementary schools. High poverty schools have 27% white kids, 40% latino kids, 23% black and 10% other. Schools that are not-high-poverty are 65% white, 17% latino, 6% black and 12% other. Is this really "choice"? Choice is an illusion. Only parents who are hustling the hardest or winning a lottery seem to get the options they seek. Choice creates winners and losers. Sixty-five years after Brown versus Board of Education, we have become segregated again. If everyone had equal access to "choice", we would not see the growing disparities by race and economics. Instead of choice, we need inclusion. Every child, regardless of family circumstances, disabilities, race, color, language status needs education to be the opportunity for success and upward mobility. We need high-quality education to be the ramp to the American dream for all our children.