From the Trail: Chalkbeat’s 2017 Election Live Blog
November 2, 2017
November 2, 2017
Another notable relatively last-minute endorsement in the Denver school board race just landed: Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is backing former teacher and community organizer Angela Cobián in southwest Denver.
Hancock’s office issued the following announcement on his endorsement Thursday:
“As a former DPS student and teacher, Angela Cobian knows the ins and outs of our school district better than most. And as someone who grew up in Southwest Denver with strong family and neighborhood ties to her community, Angela is ideally suited to represent this part of Denver on the DPS board of education. She knows first-hand that a quality public-school education can open multiple doors of opportunity for all students. She is committed to maintaining and accelerating the momentum that DPS has achieved over the past several years. She is firm in her desire to better connect the district to the families and neighborhoods it serves in Southwest Denver and to expanding access to early childhood education, improving college and career readiness, and strengthening the quality of our school buildings. Along with leaders like Barbara O’Brien and Mike Johnson, Angela Cobian will help take DPS to the next level.”
October 31, 2017
A dishonest strategy to frighten voters away from a promising young Latina running for the Denver school board in heavily Latino southwest Denver almost feels like a hate crime — and it comes from one of the bastions of liberal advocacy.
The attack arrived late last week in the form of a glossy mailer sent to voters in Denver Public Schools’ District 2. Its cover features ominous photos of President Donald Trump, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and school board candidate Angela Cobián, side by side. A banner reads: “We have to keep their agenda out of Denver.”
This, in a school district and city where fears are inflamed by Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration.
The mailer is the handiwork of Every Student Succeeds, which gets its support from the state’s largest teachers union, the Colorado Education Association, as well as money from the Denver and Aurora teachers unions.
October 27, 2017
Angela Cobián has spent much of her young career as a teacher and community organizer. The daughter of Mexican immigrants, the 28-year-old has advocated for justice for immigrants and spent two years teaching English language learners at a low-income northeast Denver school.
So when the political newcomer running to represent heavily Latino southwest Denver on the Denver school board saw an election campaign mailer that pictured her face alongside those of President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, she felt “genuine shock.”
October 26, 2017
Angela Cobián aspira representar al distrito No. 2 en mesa directiva de las Escuelas Públicas de Denver. Cobián es una conocida activista comunitaria de la ciudad. Desde la organización “Together Colorado” adelantó iniciativas para mejorar las relaciones entre la policía y las comunidades de inmigrantes. Dio apoyo a la campaña para el programa de licencias SB-251. Y estuvo involucrada en las acciones para lograr mejores opciones de transporte escolar para los estudiantes de la ciudad y los del suroeste de Denver, su vecindario.
Esta joven activista tiene un especial vínculo con el área donde creció. Pero, además tiene especial compromiso con la educación. Una vez que culminó su licenciatura en Ciencias Políticas comenzó a trabajar como maestra en una escuela pública de su vecindario. Para ella, esta fue una manera de devolver todo el apoyo comunitario que recibió mientras crecía. Ahora como directiva en la mesa directiva quiere que “todos los estudiantes tengan la oportunidad de recibir educación de alta calidad lo cual les va a permitir tener éxito en sus estudios superiores y en su carrera profesional” dijo Cobián.
October 24, 2017
Two political newcomers are dueling for a wide-open school board seat in southwest Denver, a region of the city that has seen a multitude of school improvement efforts in recent years.
Angela Cobián, a former Denver teacher backed by pro-reform organizations and current board members, is facing off against parent and real estate agent Xóchitl “Sochi” Gaytán, who has the endorsement and the funding of the Denver teachers union.
In many ways, the race for the District 2 seat appears to follow a political storyline familiar to voters in the state’s largest school district: A candidate who disagrees with the district’s direction challenging one who supports it. Neither candidate is particularly well known, and both have compelling personal stories to tell as they introduce themselves to voters.
October 24, 2017
Politics doesn’t get much more local than a school board election, and this year’s races have not disappointed. Four of the seven seats on the Denver Public Schools’ Board of Education are in play on November 7. If you have children attending DPS schools right now, there’s a chance you’re familiar with this race. If you aren’t in that stage of life (or haven’t had time to vet the candidates), there are still plenty of reasons why you should pay attention: DPS employs a massive amount of people, from teachers to custodians and bus drivers; a quality neighborhood school can impact real estate; and, well, children are our future. To help you better know the candidates, we asked all 10 hopefuls the same set of questions and selected short quotes (which have been edited for length and clarity) about why they are running, what DPS is doing well, what they’d like to change, and more. It’s time to meet your candidates.
October 20, 2017
Supporters of reform efforts at Denver Public Schools ought to pay attention in this off-year election cycle, as four seats on the seven-member board are in play, and anti-reformers enjoy plenty of money and energy. Thankfully, a solid slate of reform-minded candidates is available, and we urge voters to stay the course and support candidates who back Superintendent Tom Boasberg’s promising efforts to ensure that all district students attend a high-performing school.
The Denver district’s embrace of charter and innovation schools and its commitment to ensuring that its traditional neighborhood schools offer quality education — and fixing or replacing them when they don’t — have been working in demonstrable ways. Recent test data indicates that while the achievement gap is growing within the district, low-income kids are making strides. For the first time, they are performing on par with other students who receive free or reduced-price lunches across the state, and English language learners are outperforming their non-English-speaking peers statewide. The district is an increasingly attractive option for students across the economic spectrum, and is dedicated to offering solid college-track and vocational-track preparedness.
I want to be on the school board because students in District 2 should grow with the city of Denver. I have the experience to lead from three distinct vantage points: student, teacher, and parent organizer. I grew up in southwest Denver as a student who received free and reduced lunch and learned english as a second language. I taught similar students as a 2nd and 3rd grade maestra at Cole Arts and Sciences Academy in DPS. I also earned a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction, enabling me to work with teachers in Mexico City on a Fulbright scholarship. I then organized parents at the school that I taught in with Together Colorado, as well as organizing parishioners in my home parish. We worked on securing high academic standards at the state capitol and improving relations between the immigrant community and the Denver Police Department. When I am elected I will not only synthesize my experience to inform the decisions I make on the school board; but also develop a community-centered approach where those who are directly impacted are at the table as partners towards a Denver Public Schools in which “every child succeeds.”
October 5, 2017
This fall, thousands of Coloradans will vote in dozens of local school board races across the state.
In many cases, their votes will determine the philosophical direction of their school districts. Should there be more charter schools? How much should the district pay teachers? How should the district boost learning for its most vulnerable students? These are just some of the policy questions school boards consider. And with majority control up for grabs on many boards, the stakes are especially high in 2017.
In order to help voters decide who to vote for, Chalkbeat surveyed candidates in some of the most hotly contested races. Below are their responses, which have been lightly edited for clarity.
To use our survey, readers can select specific races, then click on a candidate’s name to show or hide their responses.
October 4, 2017
Angela Cobian is a former 2nd and 3rd grade ELA teacher and has been a community organizer since 2014.
“I have the ganas (will) and experience to best represent District 2 on the DPS Board. I taught second and third grade in DPS because I wanted students from my community to have the same opportunity. I earned my Masters in Curriculum and Instruction to better serve my students and later taught teachers on a Fulbright scholarship. I returned to my school to lead with parents as a community organizer with Together Colorado. My leadership will ensure students grow with the city of Denver towards an inclusive future.” angelaforsouthwestdenver.com
September 19, 2017
Stand for Children Colorado (Stand) announced today endorsements for 3 candidates for the Denver Public Schools (DPS) Board of Education election this fall.
“These three leaders have a strong track record of working to support positive outcomes for all Denver students. We are excited to help get the word out about these candidates and why Denver voters should support them,” said Jeani Frickey Saito, Stand Executive Director.
The DPS Board of Education is responsible for making policy for the district. There are seven elected board members. Stand for Children runs an endorsement process for those seeking office at the state and district level (DPS only). Candidates interested in Stand’s endorsement complete a questionnaire about their policy perspectives. Questionnaires are reviewed by our team for alignment to Stand policy priorities. All candidates then are invited it to be interviewed by a committee of parents. Following the interviews, the parent committee provided their input via rubric on each candidate. All of this information is compiled and endorsements are then made. In District 4, two of the three candidates completed our process for endorsement.
July 31, 2017
Making tamales together at the kitchen table is a Cobián Family Christmas tradition. One Christmas, Cobián’s mother received a call prompting her to leave their tamale making for about 30 minutes. On her return, the family asked where she had been. Cobián’s mother shared that the call was from a mother of one of the children at the preschool where she worked. She was stranded at the Mexican border after leaving her abusive husband. Making the situation more complicated was the woman’s undocumented status. She needed safe shelter for her and her children on New Year’s Eve and turned to Cobián’s mother for help. Cobián has many stories like this about her mother, a woman who clearly had a deep and profound affect on who Cobián has become.
July 19, 2017
When I served our community as a 2nd- and 3rd- grade ELA teacher, I went to work every day ready to empower my students’ limitless curiosity and capacity to thrive. My students, and thousands like them all over the country, are now some of the most vulnerable to destructive federal policies which are blind to their humanity and complicit in the abandonment of the promise of an equitable public education.
It is clear Betsy DeVos serves the interests of private companies like for-profit colleges and over the interests of students and families. Now, she is coming to Denver to speak to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group that she has also privately funded to dominate state legislatures.
If she were to step into my classroom, Secretary DeVos would not only notice rigorous instruction, she would also hear brilliant students asking each other critical questions. Our classroom theme was “education and resistance,” and my students learned about our history with thematic literacy units that explored the accomplishments of teacher-organizer Dolores Huerta and civil rights leader Rosa Parks.
July 12, 2017
Angela Cobián calls hers “a truly unique Colorado story.” She is from Denver by way of Mexico. Her parents immigrated to the United States in the late 1980s and, benefitting from President Reagan’s amnesty, they stayed, worked, and built a family. They first lived in Arleta, California, in a three bedroom, one bathroom house. She remembers:
“One day, my dad heard from our next-door neighbor, who was an immigrant from Guatemala, that there were lots of jobs in Colorado because of construction. Our neighbor and my dad went to Colorado in the late ‘90s. They slept out of their found jobs, and came back to California with U-Hauls. I still remember that the U-Haul had just one seat, so it was my Dad, my Mom, my brother, me, and my little sister (who was a baby at the time) on my Mom’s lap.
I remember making the drive from California to Colorado and going through the Eisenhower Tunnel. I looked outside the window and saw snow for the first time. That is my first vivid memory of Colorado! Then, we went to the apartment that my Dad had found in front of a K-Mart. That’s how we started our lives here in Colorado. I started my schooling in Kindergarten and then I chose to go to college in Colorado.”
May 24, 2017
Denver school board member Rosemary Rodriguez said Wednesday that she is not running for re-election, putting her southwest Denver seat up for grabs in what will likely be a contentious school board campaign this fall with control of the board at stake.
Rodriguez told Chalkbeat she is retiring from her job as senior advisor to Democratic U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and plans to sell her home and buy a smaller one that belonged to her grandparents.
That home is not in her school board district, District 2, but in the district represented by board member Lisa Flores. With the exception of at-large members, Denver school board members must live in the districts they represent.
“If it weren’t the case, I would still be running,” Rodriguez said.
During her four-year tenure, Rodriguez worked with community groups and others to spotlight student achievement in southwest Denver, leading to new schools and better transportation.