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April 15, 2011 05:35 PM UTC

Sorry that the Easley recall failed

  • by: dwyer

I think the reason stated on the petition was incorrect.  But, Easley supported a so-called “community” effort that I believe is bogus. (Please note that Denver Public Schools uses the term “community” all the time. but never provides a legal definition). That is the reason I supported the recall.

I do not believe that private corporate and political interests should be allowed to come into a school district, set up committees and decide WHO will sit on those committees, exclude most parents and teachers in the impacted schools from sitting on the committees and then dictate a so-called “reform plan.”  This is the decision making plan that Easley endorsed for NE Denver. (It is also the plan currently in NW Denver, only this time instead of the A+ Committee, it is the Jesuits who are probably calling the shots. Great.)

I think that such plans are profoundly anti-democratic and inherently unfair.

I also think they do not work.  

Politically and sociologically, I believe that Denver Public Schools has more in common with the Third World or LDC than a school district in the US, for the following reasons:

1) The District is black, brown and poor.

2)  There is a small minority, usually white and usually affluent, who are in the better schools and do well.  Access to these schools is controlled in a variety of ways.

3)  I assume that a number of parents in the District are not eligible to vote, either because they are here illegally or because they have to move too

frequently to establish the necessary residency. It is illegal to ask a parent/child about their immigrant status so this fact cannot be documented.

4)  The consequence of a significant number of parents not eligible to vote means that the elected representatives are less responsive to parents.

5) The large number of effectively disenfranchised parents, means that they have no voice.  I believe that that this facilitates the entrance into the District of a large number of well-meaning Foundations, NGOs, business interests, national advocacy groups; all of whom have come to “help.”  I believe that they develop relationships with each other and with board members, and “select” members of the community.  I believe that this results in a loss of accountability and makes the students of DPS, all too often, guinea pigs for the latest reform “fad.”

Study the tragic history of Manual High School. And then, study it again.

6) The recent diaries and comments here illustrate how easy it is to use DPS to project one’s own perceptions and agenda.  When I first posted my support of the Easley recall, I was criticized because I didn’t agree with the assumption the recall was unnecessary.  I was then told that I was “free” to start my own recall of Easley.  Except, I was not.  DPS is divided into representative districts and I don’t live in Easley’s Districts.  But the person who “knew” what the recall was all about, did not know that. It is not necessary to live in Denver, in order to “know” what the problems are and how to “cure” them.  It is not necessary to suffer the consequences of bad decisions, which is the heart of accountability.  Just like Americans don’t have to go to the LDC , to “know:” how to cure the problems, DPS is a blank slat on which everyone can write.

7) One of the lasting legacies of the rule of the British Empire, are the horrendous political divides within the former colonies. “Divide and Conquer”

was the successful strategy employed by the British Imperialists to manage their colonies.  I rest my case.


14 thoughts on “Sorry that the Easley recall failed

  1. I generally don’t support recalls because I think they’re just an effort to un-do or re-do an election.

    We have representative government. Sometimes the people we elect don’t vote the way we had expected them to vote. Next election we can work harder to throw the bums out.

    Nate Easley is not a lone wolf, independently wreaking havoc on DPS. He’s just one board member. The fact that removing him would tip the balance one way or the other tells us that the board is pretty evenly divided. So what we have is a “war of ideas.” That hardly warrants the expense and disruption of a recall.

    In the last election. Easley’s detractors lost. Maybe in the next election, they’ll win. But, IMO, they’re in a much weaker position than before. This effort makes them look petty, vindictive, and inept, hiding behind a mask of anonymity. And Easley now is sitting on $20k with which to jump start the next campaign.

    And no, I don’t live in Denver.  

  2. You know better than the poor, huddled masses of Easley’s district.

    Well, your understanding is still off. Union bought Easley apparently got a better deal. 🙁 That still doesn’t make a lie on a ballot OK.

    Who’s your member? How do they vote? Why haven’t you answered any of my questions in the past about this issue?

    Anyway, your assumptions seem to be a tad off. Easley’s election had just about the same turnout as the rest. But somehow those are only the rich, white people who only sometimes vote for reform????

    The issue here, as with DeFENSE is that Easley didn’t do what the union paid him to do. Since the union was in no small part responsible for getting him elected, presumably he’ll have a much more difficult time for his next term. I’m lost on how you think he isn’t dependent on his constituents for reelection.

    I know this is radical; I don’t think anyone has actually brought it up yet, but what if Easley didn’t act how anyone paid him, but did and has acted in the way he thinks is best for the “community”?

    For the record, I live in Merida’s district. And no, I don’t have children. I did vote for her and would’ve supported her reelection had she not shown herself to be a liar, as I lean toward the minority side of the issues. Ends don’t justify the means, dwyer. Situational ethics aren’t OK. If you believe those things, the recall wasn’t OK.

  3. but the overriding fact here is that until the citizens within each local “community” (as you would like to define that term) are willing to band together and tax themselves sufficiently in order to pay for the kind of quality education that they claim to want for their children, then they are going to have to rely on monies from outside their “communities” and all of the unwanted baggage that comes with that.

    No free lunch ever; no one is ever going to get money from outside sources without some strings attached.

    Want a better education for your children? –it’s going to have to be paid for.  Want to control that better education? — then YOU (collectively) are the ones who will have to pay for it. Taxes, baby!

    It’s the same for roads, energy, housing, medical care, ad infinitum.  Until all that we ever want grows on trees, then it’s going to have to be paid for, and the people doing the paying are going to have their say.

  4. 1 The District is black, brown and poor.

    Chicago. Los Angeles. Houston. Detroit. St Louis. Oakland. Miami. Atlanta. New York. Hartford. Phoenix. Dallas.  Charlotte. DC. and on and on.

    Then London. Munich. Sydney.  Paris.  and others.

    2  … minority, usually white and usually affluent, who are in the better schools and do well.  Access to these schools is controlled …

    see 1

    3  … parents in the District are not eligible to vote, either because they are here illegally or because they have to move too _frequently to establish the necessary residency. It is illegal to ask a parent/child about their immigrant status so this fact cannot be documented.

    Not unique to DPS. See 1

    4  The consequence of a significant number of parents not eligible to vote means that the elected representatives are less responsive to parents.


    I know  a large urban school district similar to DPS in history and problems.  The parents and community never complained, partly because 60% + attended private, but mostly because no matter what the schools did the betters jobs just kept coming The college opportunities just kept coming. The American Dream was alive and well.

    Now that the exhaustible upward spiral of 20th c. American affluence has gone sideways or declined, everyone wants to “fix” the public schools. And everyone has their own answers.

    Engaged parents are good. Concerned and active communities are good. (BTW- the Easley recall was neither.)

    You know how to tell when you have engaged and concerned parents: they kill the cable tv and pull the plug on the play station and they teach their kids to read and write and do math.  They teach their kids and the neighbors’ kids that doing well in school while being respectful of the teachers and staff and other students is a good thing and drugs and gangs and crime are bad. Then they make it happen.

    Nate Easley is not my friend or neighbor. But by any measure he’s working hard to make DPS better.  His opposition wants to do what’s always been done, “but better”. Well you know what? When you do what you always did, you get what you always got. Except Lowry Air Force Base and Fitsimmons Army Medical Center are never coming back and the jobs that came with them are gone and not yet replaced.  Ford is not going to open an assembly line in Montbello and put everyone to work for $20/hr. (Sorry childhood reference…) Uh, Rocky Flats is gone and not coming back. The Aresenal is gone. The uranium processing plants of the northeast side are gone (and now almost completely mitigated- thank you Governor Ritter and Mayors Webb and Hickinlooper). Qwest is gone.

    I can understand and even respect when a voter is not supportive of the elected official. I could, under the right (wrong) circumstances get behind a recall.

    But the public complaints against Easley have been either petty or incoherenet.

    You say DPS has never legally defined community?

    What? How do you define it?

    You believe the challenges and problems of  DPS are somehow unique to DPS in the USA and more like South America, Africa or Aisia.  Wake up!  I’d take the performance of the public schools of Caracas or Seoul or Botswanna over DPS right now.

    I have studied Manual High School.

    You know which numbers most surprised me after hearing about how horrible it all was? The graduation rate of the “dislocated” classes was within 1-3% of the projected graduation rate if Manual wasn’t closed. Huh?

    That’s right – the data shows that yes some students were “lost” and didn’t graduate.  But the projections are that roughly the same number would have failed to graduate if Manual had just kept on keeping on.  

    Was the closing of Manual an admission of failure? Absolutely. Was it it still the best choice. I have not been convinced otherwise.

    Oh, and did Mr Easley have anything to do with closing Manual?  Did any other high profile but equally reviled by the Easley recall folk elected official?  

    Now, let’s move on from the creation of unnecessary problems and distractions. If we can.

    How do you want to “fix” DPS?

    1. 1) The demographics of DPS are certainly replicated in other urban school districts.   Certainly, the problems of educating the poor, black, and brown are not limited to DPS.  It may well be the same political construct exists in other places. I don’t know.  I just know DPS. And I know a little bit about LDC.

      2) The political strategies as I described as been in use in DPS for over twenty years.  They are not working.

      3) I don’t question the importance of involved parents.  Although, not all homeless shelters and motels on Colfax have those play stations and cable TV.  But when parents are marginalized, treated as large children, and sometimes intimated, they may be discouraged from involvement in the schools.

      4) Manual:  You are looking at the end-game. The problems at Manual go back at least 20 or more years. Each successive so-called “reform” failed.  See #2.  The BOE allowed Gates Foundation to “experiment” with their three smaller schools within one high school model at Manual.  Their experiment failed. The options were not to leave things as they were or to close the school.  The students who had been part of the “experiment” should have received significant remedial help and other compensatory services.  They did not.  

      The mistakes at Manual are being repeated at Montebello:

      outtside group dictating change with sparse parental involvement; no ability of parents to vote on those changes; and, the same “small school model” that failed so horribly at Manual is being duplicated at Montebello.

      I am not blaming Easley for Manual.  I am blaming him for replicating the intervention strategy that failed at Manual.

      5) I do not believe that DPS can be fixed.  It is a bad political system.  It is not an educational system. The kids, when they are not being used as political pawns or guinea pigs, are not relevant.

      6) KIds in Seoul  pretty much outperform kids in the USA.

      Let me stress.  My focus in this diary is to describe the political system within DPS that results in bad education for minority/poor students.  

    2. I’m trying to stay out of this fight.

      I would not compare any school district in the country to Detroit, where you can buy a house for $1 and classrooms average upward of 70 students, even in kindergarten. The only place you can compare Detroit to right now may be Afghanistan. Don’t believe me? Go there.  

  5. I deplore the process which limits the ability of constituents and/or the parents of children to participate in a process that is going to change the school their children attend.

  6. After investigating the issue of “neighborhood schools,” it appears to me that supporters want separate but equal to return to prottect the teachers.

    Thurgood Marshall clearly demonstrated that separate but equal is not equal.

    Of course people can argue that our city isn’t segregated. It isn’t as bad as it used to be, for example redlining is outlawed, but it’s still heavily  segregated.

      1. The idea behind charter  schools is to provide children the ooportunity to not be bound educationally by the zip code that they live in. I grew ln West Denver and was bussed from the Westwood /Barnum border to Lakd Jr High (now Middle school). Since the end of mandatory bussing. I fear that the city has drifted back to segregation, if not by law then by sociological factors.

        Thurgood Marshall clearly demonstrated separate is not equal.

        The teachers union appears to be the major crtic of public charters.

        The AFT has not been soley involved in organizing teachers. My experience with the Colorado Fedration of Public Employees was very unpleassnt. While I am normally pro-labor, I do not like the trend of union officals having more in common with people on golf courses than they do with rank and file.

        I’ve lived in West Denver, North Denver, Park Hill, Capitol Hill and Buchtel Park. I’ve also lived in North Aurora and Glendale.I know  the cities demographics well.

        Integrated schools produce adults more likely to tolerate others.

        If the system doesn’t work to integrate kids, then the method of choosing schools should change.

        I wouldn’t be opposed to going back to busing if that’s what it takes.

  7. I think that the so-called “choice and magnet” schools have a proportion of affluent and Anglo students that is greater than the District as a whole. This leaves neighborhood schools more poor and more black and brown.  Do you have different statistics?  If so, please show them.

    After investigating the issue of “neighborhood schools,” it appears to me that supporters want separate but equal to return to prottect the teachers.

    Now, I did not mention charter schools, because admittance is based on lotteries.  I personally think that system is absurd.  And, DST has some kind of lottery within quotas based on income….as far as I recall.  Also, some “choice” or magnet schools have admittance standards that not all can demonstrated artistic talent or certain scores on standardized IQ tests. Plus, parents have to provide transportation to “choice” schools, which acts as a barrier to low income parents, single parent households; etc.

    Let me emphasize.  I take no stand on the neighborhood v. charter fight.  I argue against the strategies being used to “reform schools.”  

  8. I am not against Charters.  As I see it, Charters provide an opportunity for different kinds of programs.  The charters are a separate issue from magnet and so-called “choice” schools. Some charters, such as West Prep, and now DS&T, give admittance preference to kids in the immediate neighborhoods.

    Charters are not draining neighborhoods of anglo/affluent parents. “Choice in”regular public schools requiring that parents provide transportation and private schools are draining the neighborhood schools of this population. The need to provide transportation works as a barrier to lower income parents.

    I agree that there has been a resegregation.  However, there are all kinds of ways that is happening.  The “choice” system is one.  The other is the fact that neighborhood schools in poor areas do not have the same resources as schools in more affluent areas in Denver.  Plus, those schools have a lot of staff turnover.  Montebello had nine principals in ten years.  Busing might solve the problem.

    However, I believe that the “powers that be” in Denver would move heave and earth to prevent any kind of civil rights court action.  Court-ordered busing resulted in white flight and a twenty year decline in Denver.  There is no way such solutions would ever be tolerated again.

    I think that minority/poor students are just being discouraged from staying in DPS schools, IMHO.  They are being pushed out into Jeffco, Adams cty and Aurora.

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