Denver Public Schools’ groundbreaking portfolio district reform program will face a fierce political test this November. Over the past four years, first under the leadership of then superintendent and now Senator Michael Bennet, and currently under Superintendent Tom Boasberg, Denver’s Board of Education has directed one of the country’s most ambitious efforts to transform a school district from a monopoly provider to a manager of a portfolio of public schools of choice.
The Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) has accused the school board of union busting for approving “innovation” status for more Denver schools, even though teachers are voting for the chance to teach in a more regulation-free environment. Already the DCTA is supporting candidates in hopes of controlling the seven-member board.
Reformers hold a 4-3 board majority and are organizing support for pro-reform candidates. Denver voters consistently have favored reform initiatives. In June they elected a new mayor, Michael Hancock, who is a staunch pro-reform official. But with three seats on the ballot this November, the Denver Plan could be in jeopardy.
At the moment, though, the brewing showdown seems remote. Last week, the BOE unanimously approved nine new schools.