By Laura Mutton, parent & president of Strong School Coalition
Published in Denver Post (print and online) October 20
There is one statement in the Denver Post’s endorsement of the incumbent Dougco school board slate with which parents will agree: The stakes are high in this school board election.
Otherwise, The Post missed the mark. The absence of comment on the widespread discontent that exists in the parent community demonstrates The Post’s lack of knowledge of the district.
Parent satisfaction is at an all-time low, with only 38 percent believing that the district is heading in a positive direction. Parents are upset that district administration has increased while unnecessary cuts have been made to schools, causing a loss of instructional time, increases to class sizes, and fewer choices for students.
Parents are concerned that academic performance is slowly losing pace with the state average. The Post has overlooked the sheer volume of outside funding flooding into the local Douglas County School District election in an attempt to minimize this widespread discontent.
The Post’s endorsement relies on a politically motivated report prepared for the current board by consultants from the American Enterprise Institute.
Paid endorsements are common practice for the current Douglas County School Board, which also used outside funds to run commercials making bold and inaccurate claims about the district’s academic achievements. Organizations external to Dougco — Americans for Prosperity and the Independence Institute — have spent an enormous amount of money to run commercials, make robo-calls and distribute political propaganda.
The incumbent candidates have received 96 percent of their campaign funds from individuals who live outside of Douglas County. Every Douglas County resident should be asking if candidates receiving such significant amounts of money from outside sources will be accountable to the interests of residents.
The endorsements and slick commercials are meant to distract from the real concerns overlooked in The Post’s endorsement: lack of parent satisfaction and declining academic success. Parents know best when it comes to the state of their schools. School districts are stronger when board members collaborate with parents, teachers and the community.
It is unfortunate parent discontent was not considered when The Post made its endorsement.
Laura Mutton is president of the Strong Schools Coalition, a non-profit organization of Douglas County citizens that does not support or endorse any political party, candidate for, or incumbent in elected office.