Uncle Charley Unmasked as One of Our Own Questioning DPS Bond Proposal

One of Colorado’s biggest online mysteries has been solved. The many readers of the Schools for Tomorrow education blog are sleeping better tonight. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration.

What am I talking about? On Friday, 9News interviewed the Education Policy Center‘s Ben DeGrow about his perspective on the state record $454 million school bond proposal Denver voters face this year. In the process, his hardly-surprising online identity was revealed:

An online blogger named “Uncle Charley” has written several entries for Education News Colorado trying to get readers to think about the need before they act.

One blog is entitled, “More Tough Questions on DPS Bond,” which talks in part about the individual items that would be funded by this bond issue and series of property tax hikes have agreed to in Denver over the past two decades.

“Uncle Charley” is actually the pseudonym for Ben DeGrow, with the Independence Institute, a non-partisan conservative political think tank. DeGrow says spending $13 million dollars on athletic fields and other monies for failing and half-filled schools is not wise. [link added]

Ben said that (hardly unexpected) the quotes in the piece don’t do his argument justice. But that’s okay. He was quick to point out that many of the projects in the bond are doubtless worthy ones, but that some of the individual projects (e.g, the price tags for renovating North HS and for artificial turf on football fields, as well as the lack of impact analysis on the Learning Landscapes) raised red flags. He didn’t see anyone else asking the questions, so “Uncle Charley” took it upon himself.

Ben also said the recent history of Denver voters’ favorability to tax increases and the lack of an organized opposition bode well for the record $454 million proposal’s passage. In the scheme of things, that would hardly be a disaster. The two main points are: Are taxpayers getting a good deal out of the bond proposals put forth by DPS and other area school districts? AND What can be done to make future bond proposals smarter and more efficient?

Oh well, at least now everyone knows who the self-styled stodgy – but always thought-provoking – conservative “Uncle Charley” is. Perhaps there’s no better time than Halloween for the metaphorical unmasking. To those of you out there who had put money on it being someone from the Bill Ritter administration, the teachers union, or liberal academia, I’m sorry for your financial loss. Whether the arguments are made by “Uncle Charley” or Ben DeGrow, they ought to be scrutinized on their own merit.