Overcoming Denver School Board Race Voucher "Myth-Information"

A couple days ago I shared with you my amusement at a Denver Post headline and story that injected the rumor of “vouchers” into the board race for Colorado’s largest school district: Jefferson County. What about the state’s second-largest district? Well, the big story over at Ed News Colorado right now is “Vouchers a tricky issue in DPS race”:

When a newly-formed committee called Latinos for Education Reform placed ads in several community newspapers criticizing the records of both [Denver Public Schools board incumbent Arturo] Jimenez and board member Andrea Merida – who is not up for re-election this year – the Jimenez campaign initially complained of “race-baiting.”

But Jimenez followed that with a newsletter to supporters claiming LFER is misrepresenting itself and that its ads “are being pushed by pro-voucher individuals and special-interest groups,” making reference to “radical pro-voucher activists from Douglas County.”

In the Jeffco race, one of the candidates “accused” of wanting to push private school choice within the district at least acknowledged being open to the idea. The same cannot be said about the DPS reformers. The article quotes Jimenez’s opponent as saying: “Public funds belong in the public education system, not in the parochial or private school systems. Our public education system is sorely underfunded as it is, and we need to focus every dollar possible on improving our public schools so that every child has access to a great public school.”

This goes to show is that, despite anyone’s personal feelings about the issue, 1) Vouchers are not an issue in this DPS board race; and 2) The issue is necessarily too divisive to embrace in a Denver citywide election. Even so, it’s sad to see the “myth-information” embodied in the quote above. Sorely underfunded? Not exactly. But more disappointing is the focus on funding “systems” rather than students.

When it comes to prominent liberal leaders, I prefer the school choice views of Denver’s own Peter Groff, former state senate president who recently took a senior position with the pro-voucher Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO). Or Berkeley professor John E. Coons, who today published an insightful piece for redefinED titled “Parental authority is at the heart of school choice.” The expedience of politics sometimes may dictate a disappointing message, but it’s important to continue promoting the principles that underlie the need for more educational choice.