DPS School Board “reformers” shut out opposition from leadership

After such a heated school board race, I was curious to see the first meeting with the new members.  Honestly I wasn’t motived enough to go down there, but fortunately it’s available online and on TV if you have Comcast.

After several hours of the old members approving/declining charters, it was clear that the old board majority was sticking together: Easley, Pena, Hoyt, and Seawall voted together every time, while Merida, Jimenez, and Kaplan did not, with various 5-2 configurations (and many 7-0 votes as well).  You can read the votes here.

It was no real surprise that the new board, which maintains a majority backed by Hancock, Stand for Children, and similar individuals/groups, would do the same.  What saddened me was the blatant signal they sent on their first votes about ignoring other viewpoints.

In their first action, the Board elected Mary Seawall President, Happy Haynes Vice President, Nate Easley Secretary, and Anne Rowe Treasurer.  The three other board members, generally seen as supported by the Teachers’ union and opposed by the “reform” crowd, were completely shut out of executive positions.

Dissent is good.  Bringing people of different viewpoints to the table is good.  At a time that Congress is seen as broken along party lines and those divisions are blamed for a lack of progress, we see a faction, or “slate” as they were called during the campaign, stand together opposing any notion of dissent on a local nonpartisan board. Formerly Jimenez held the Vice President role, which was at least a symbolic gesture that all viewpoints would be considered.  

I don’t think there is any one solution to improving DPS, and now every position is held by individuals who have already signaled their uniformity.  Add to that Mayor Hancock’s appointment of the head of Stand for Children to his cabinet, and we have an ideological monopoly guiding our schools.  We encourage our kids to consider different viewpoints and ways of life, but the people guiding our schools already look like they are not doing the same.

In this last election, Jennifer Draper-Carson nearly unseated Arturo Jimenez, attacking the progress of DPS schools.  Organizations like Latinos for Education Reform joined her, with a mixed message proclaiming that the current board majority and superintendent’s plan was a success, but that everything was failing and needed to be changed.  It always struck me as convoluted, and despite outspending her opponent dramatically, it didn’t work.  However, it did work for both Happy Haynes and Anne Rowe, who defeated their opponents by wide margins.

It also makes me wonder about the next round of elections in two years.  With their new (old) majority, will organizations like Stand for Children be able to continue to push candidates who are attacking DPS’ performance?  They will, of course, have had a majority for a number of years.  Four seats will be up in 2013: Mary Seawall, who showed in her first race that she could raise an unprecedented sum of money (only surpassed now by Happy Haynes), the seat currently held by Jeannie Kaplan (who is term limited), and two controversial board members: Easley and Merida.  If there are not dramatic improvements, this monopoly of ideology from the Mayor’s office to the Board will likely be brought into question.

10 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. glasscup says:

    But the problem is that those guys have proven they can’t be trusted with anything. Can you really imagine having Jimenez or Merida as, say, Treasurer?  

    • Obvious Alias says:

      When the previous board was configured the idea was giving the “other side” a voice, with Jimenez has VP.

      As to your comment about “can’t be trusted with anything,” its clear from your previous comments that you don’t like the 3 of them anyway.

      It’s also interesting to note that there were two charter schools, both of which were aimed at helping high-risk, usually low income students, which both failed to get the needed votes last night.  One existing one which worked with students who had dropped out or otherwise were academically behind, and another aimed at Native American students.  It was the so called reformers that opposed them.  Charter schools for rich white kids?  Check.  Charter schools for others?  No way.

      Stand and their crew played the “political outsider” card.  It will be interesting to watch them defend it in two years if there are no real improvements.

    • John Tzekara says:

      You should remember that Easley (the former president) and Seawall (the new president) both said they were over to start with, only to later revise their math a few times and find themselves under.  That’s either bad accounting on their part of an intentional deception of some kind.  Either way it doesn’t speak very highly of them.

  2. MADCO says:

    meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    Well whaddya want?  Elections have consequences, yes?

    It seems too…trite to just conclude that the voters were duped by big, outside money that lied to them.    I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, just that absent a call for better vote counting next time, it’s the standard losing complaint.

    Of course the ideology of the current DPS Board will be called into question in the next election.   As will any other, perceived or real, character flaw, failing or weakness.

  3. raymond1 says:

    and should we be outraged that speaker john boehner and the house republicans didn’t pick nancy pelosi as majority leader?

    i get and respect that you agree more with the DPS board minority – but to blame the majority for electing leaders who agree with their view is just silly and disingenuous

    • John Tzekara says:

      Yes — that is how our national congress acts.  Bipartisanism is gone, voters are all determined by party affiliation, etc.

      There was a time not long ago that our local boards, be it school boards, city councils, commissioners, etc, still consisted of people who made independent choices.  As I point out in the votes as well, it isn’t a case of two sides each voting in lock-step: it’s a case of one group doing so.

    • John Tzekara says:

      Committees have a role of “Ranking minority member,” which often serves as the voice of dissent.  It’s important that such roles exist.

      The DPS Board has 4 executive positions for 7 members, and not one is from a different ideological mentality.

      • In the House, the Ranking minority member on a committee gets to do perhaps two things when interacting with the body as a whole – determine which of the minority members get to speak when during a debate, and gets to be a “voice” for the minority when a single voice is needed.

        The Ranking minority members get no other privileges in the House aside from in the Intelligence committee, where they get to sit in on super-secret meetings (most of the time, when they’re invited by the administration).

        It’s not an Executive position – every member of the House and Senate executive committees is a member of the majority.

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