Jeff Bryant writes here about Denver, which has recently been heralded as the new model of corporate reform

Not so fast, he writes.

Across the city, Denver has opened 27 charter schools in the last five years, and plans to start up six more in the 2016-17 school year – effectively doubling the number of charter schools in the city in less than six years, according to a recent report from the Center for Popular Democracy, a left-leaning research and advocacy organization in Washington, DC. Yet this rush to expand charters is hardly justified by the performance of the ones already in operation.

According to CPD, based on the school performance framework Denver uses to evaluate its own schools, “Forty percent of Denver charter schools are performing below expectations.” And of those schools, 38 percent are performing significantly below expectations.

Nevertheless, numerous articles and reports in mainstream media outlets and education policy sites enthusiastically tout Denver as the place to see the next important new “reform” in education policy in action.

People in live in Denver and send their children to public schools see a different narrative from that of the reformers:

Instead of a glowing example, they point to warning signs. Rather than a narrative of success, their stories reveal disturbing truths about Denver’s version of modern urban school reform – how policy direction is often controlled by big money and insiders, why glowing promises of “improvement” should be regarded with skepticism, and what the movement’s real impacts are, especially in communities dominated by poor families of color.

The conflicts of interest abound and no one seems to care:

As the Colorado Independent reports, two members of the controlling school board majority in 2013, Barbara O’Brien and Landri Taylor, headed up organizations that contracted directly with the city school district. The two consistently voted with attorney Mike Johnson, whose law firm earned $3.8 million from the district during his tenure on an advisory committee before stepping up to the board.

Taylor, who was appointed to the board in 2013 and had the advantage of running as an incumbent in 2015, was well known as a key backer of opening new charter schools. After winning the election in 2015, he abruptly resigned earlier this year for family reasons.

To replace Taylor, the board picked MiDian Holmes who, according to Chalkbeat Colorado, is “an active member in the school reform advocacy group Stand for Children,” a pro-charter organization that has made large donations to school board candidates running on a pro-reform platform. (Holmes eventually resigned when background checks revealed she is a convicted child abuser, and the board seat is, at this date, vacant.)

Is this is reform, what does corruption look like?