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Can Denver Leaders Rise Above Education Reform Backlash to Make Needed Progress?

It sure looks like Denver’s education reform backlash has made some noise of late. As the editors of the Denver Post explain today, what’s really absurd is the venomous propaganda being launched at successful charter schools in the district’s proposal to expand them into the northeast region of the city’s troubled education system:

DPS has produced a thoughtful blueprint for reforming schools in northeast Denver, using programs and tools that have proven successful in other parts of the city.

DPS board members ought to publicly disavow the misinformation campaign that says charter schools “perpetuate the school-to-jail track” and also alleges that the reforms will “force hundreds of high school students out of their neighborhood.”

It is unbelievable that anyone who cares about education, even if they disagree with DPS policy, would use such blatantly false rhetoric.

The Post goes on to detail some of the unsettling facts about northeast Denver’s current educational problems as well as the highly positive track record of the charter operators being targeted with the malicious propaganda.

Meanwhile, the North Denver Tribune reports that some Denver school board members participated in a protest against a meeting of education reformers in the northwest part of the city:

While community members worked in small groups inside Edison Elementary, the protesters handed out flyers with a red slash through the Stand for Children logo. The flyer claimed that Stand for Children is supported by “outside” donors intent on electing Republicans. “Do we need pro-charter, oil money fueled organizations telling us how to vote in North Denver? Do we want out-of-state special interests targeting our elected officials? We don’t need organizations spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to attack our representatives.

“Stand’s ties to right-wing political operatives is clear….

This accusation is a real head-scratcher. Not only does the Tribune article point out all the Democratic school board candidates supported by Stand for Children, but 13 of the 18 state legislative candidates supported by the group are Democrats as well. A large number of the organization’s backers are Democrats, too. But maybe that all looks different if your frame of reference is the teachers union — which is wholly attached at the hip with the Democratic Party, as evidenced in part by its political endorsements and contributions.

The education reform battle in Denver has a lot less to do with partisan politics than it does with protecting the local turf and financial interests of some adults and their organizations versus future opportunities for kids. I sure hope the school board and district leadership can rise above the deception and misinformation to do the right thing.