Denver union announces endorsements

The Denver Classroom Teachers Association on Tuesday announced its endorsements in two of three races for the Denver school board, but declined to back any candidate for the citywide at-large seat.

Logo for Denver Public SchoolsIn southeast Denver or District 1, the DCTA is backing Emily Sirota over Anne Rowe. And in northwest Denver or District 5, the union is supporting Arturo Jimenez, the lone incumbent on the Nov. 1 ballot, over Jennifer Draper Carson.

The five candidates for the at-large seat are John Daniel, Frank Deserino, Happy Haynes, Roger Kilgore and Jacqui Shumway. Haynes, a former Denver City Council president and DPS administrator, was endorsed Monday by Mayor Michael Hancock.

“In the at-large race, DCTA would likely develop a strong, collaborative relationship with most of the five candidates,” said DCTA President Henry Roman. “During our interviews, we came away with a positive feeling that more than one of them share our core values and beliefs. That’s why we decided to give our members information about all of the candidates we interviewed without giving any of them our endorsement.

Key Denver election dates

  • Oct. 3 – Last day to register to vote
  • Oct. 12 – Ballots go out in the mail
  • Oct. 24 – Eight drop-off locations for ballots are open
  • Nov. 1 – Ballots must be returned by 7 p.m.

Learn more

“By contrast, in the District 1 and 5 races, we saw a much sharper contrast between candidates. In terms of our three main priorities — student success, educator excellence, and shared accountability — Emily Sirota and Arturo Jimenez clearly demonstrate a deeper understanding of the issues that affect those priorities, and a greater willingness to partner with teachers to achieve these goals.”

Every union-backed candidate won in the 2005 election, but all three lost in 2007. In 2009, the union was two-for-three, supporting winners Andrea Merida in southwest Denver and Nate Easley in northeast Denver but endorsing Christopher Scott in the at-large race won by Mary Seawell.

The DCTA endorsement carries with it the promise of a significant financial boost. Five labor unions – the DCTA, its statewide affiliate the Colorado Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the AFL-CIO, and the United Food and Commercial Workers – pitched in a total of $103,450 to support its three candidates in 2009.

Candidates file their first financial disclosure reports on Oct. 11.

Tuesday’s endorsements differ from those of two school reform groups, which announced their picks earlier in the campaign season. The Denver chapter of Stand for Children endorsed Rowe in southeast Denver and Draper Carson in the northwest, as well as Haynes for the citywide seat. The same trio was endorsed by Democrats for Education Reform-Colorado.

The DCTA endorsements are one more indication that the DPS board races are likely to start generating more attention, with mail-in ballots going out to voters in little more than three weeks.

With roughly a dozen candidate forums scheduled in coming weeks, the candidates will have ample opportunity to set themselves apart. Wednesday, the at-large candidates will participate in a 7 p.m. forum hosted by the Bear Valley Neighborhood Improvement Association and the Southwest Denver Coalition for Education at Traylor Academy, 2900 S. Ivan Way.

Hancock is expected to make endorsements in the southeast and northwest district races, although it is not certain when those will come.

Hancock’s predecessor, Gov. John Hickenlooper, endorsed in just two races in the 2009 election, backing Seawell in the at-large race and Ismael Garcia in the southwest Denver race, which was won by Merida.

Denver school board candidates and links to their websites

  • John Daniel, 54, is a computer systems administrator and resident of the Baker neighborhood. Campaign website.
  • Frank Deserino, 49, is a social studies teacher at South High School. Campaign website.
  • Happy Haynes, 58, is director of civic and community engagement for CRL Associates, Inc. and a resident of the Park Hill neighborhood. Campaign website.
  • Roger Kilgore, 54, is a water resources engineer and consultant, and a resident of Park Hill. Campaign website.
  • Jacqui Shumway, 52, is a health educator and resident of Park Hill. Campaign website.
    District 1, Southeast Denver:
  • Anne Rowe, 51, a small business owner who lives in the Cherry Hills Heights neighborhood. Campaign website.
  • Emily Sirota, 32, is a social worker who lives in Virginia Village. Campaign website.
    District 5, Northwest Denver:
  • Jennifer Draper Carson, 42, is an education activist and full-time mom, living in the West Highlands neighborhood. Campaign website.
  • Arturo Jimenez, 39, is an immigration attorney who lives in the Highlands neighborhood. He was first elected to the northwest Denver seat in 2007. Campaign website.

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

More in What's Your Education Story?

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.