Caucus of Today's Teachers Statement on Denver School Board Elections

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2017 Denver School Board Election Results
Response from the Caucus of Today’s Teachers

Denver’s students, educators, parents, and community members finally have a veteran educator representing them on the Denver Board of Education for District Three (Central Denver)!  Congratulations to Dr. Carrie A. Olson, who defeated her incumbent and DFER (Democrats for Education Reform) funded opponent.  We are thrilled for Olson’s election; it shows the power of an authentic, grassroots, volunteer-powered campaign over massive fundraising, and shows Denver and the nation that teachers are professionals who deserve a seat (preferably several) at the education policy table.  Olson’s win gives us hope that people-powered candidates are indeed favored by the public and are certainly serious, viable candidates for office.  

In District Two (Southwest Denver), DCTA, the Caucus of Today’s Teachers, and Our Denver Our Schools (ODOS) all supported Xochitl Gaytan, and we are disappointed to see Xochitl’s campaign come to an end.  We are confident that she will continue to be an active supporter of public education in Denver despite Teach for America alum and current Leadership for Educational Equity employee Angela Cobian’s win.

The race in District Four (Northeast Denver) drew national attention due to recent DPS graduate Tay Anderson’s candidacy.  We supported Tay, volunteered with his campaign, and were highly disappointed when DCTA then decided to endorse - and give a massive sum of funding to - Teach For America alum, current LEE employee, and former charter school dean-  Jennifer Bacon for District Four.  Tay and Bacon ran against appointed incumbent and DFER backed Rachele Espiritu, with Bacon winning the election.  

The at-large race among three candidates - incumbent and DFER-funded Barbara O’Brien, Denver parent Robert Speth, and former DCTA member and Denver teacher Julie Banuelos - ended with O’Brien’s re-election.  Julie Banuelos announced her plans to run for school board months before Robert Speth, and although Speth is a founding member of ODOS and supporter of public education, we are disappointed in his decision to enter the race so late and undermine a former teacher of color’s campaign. Julie is a truly progressive candidate who was clear and unwavering in her resistance to charters and school choice. Robert was fine with both, so long as they were checked and not expanded, per his ODOS questionnaire and debates. While we are disappointed in the reelection of the incumbent, we are thrilled with the voters Julie represented and engaged in the election- folks who may not have voted without a candidate that represented their values and the shared life experiences of many Denverites.

Overall, one of the four candidates that we, the Caucus of Today’s Teachers, supported was able to win in this year’s school board election.  According to currently available reports, DCTA gave at least $227,000 (through the DCTA Fund, various Independent Expenditure Committees, or directly) to its four endorsed candidates, with only $8,500 (less than 4%) of that going to Dr. Olson, a veteran teacher who has paid far more in union dues over the past three decades.  Both Julie Banuelos & Tay Anderson were outspent 20:1 by their opponents. Despite this, both won 25% of the votes in their three-candidate race - more evidence of grassroots campaigns becoming the way people want things to be done.  The outcome of this election shows that money does not necessarily make a difference when it comes to school board elections.