Denver is one of the jewels of the Corporate Reform/Disruption crowd where outside the state money has purchased board seats in the past.

This election, however, three seats were up for grabs and the corporate reformers were defeated in all three races.

In their place, candidates who are skeptical of charters, school closing, and high-stakes testing were elected with the support of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association.

Supporters of commonsense, real reform (not Corporate Reform) already held 2 seats on the seven-person board.

The anti-Corporate Reform, pro-Public School bloc now controls 5 of 7 seats on the Denver school board. (Time for DFER to panic!).

 

Candidates backed by the Denver teachers union held the lead in Tuesday’s election as of 10 p.m., making it appear likely that the largest school district in the state will take a new direction.

The Denver Classroom Teachers Association had endorsed Tay Anderson, Scott Baldermann and Brad Laurvick for three open seats on the seven-member board. No incumbents were running, as two reached term limits and one decided to bow out.

Currently, five members of the board generally support “reform” ideas, such as closing schools that underperformed on tests and graduation rates, and opening new options like charter schools. The Denver teachers union and allied groups saw an opportunity to “flip” the board’s majority by electing candidates who opposed closing schools and were more suspicious of charters.

In the first returns for the at-large seat, Anderson was leading with 48.8% of the vote. Alexis Menocal Harrigan was in second, with 38.2%. Natela Manuntseva was trailing, with 13.0%.

Anderson, a restorative justice coordinator at DPS’ North High School, previously ran unsuccessfully for the board in 2017, when he was 19. Harrigan works for Code.org, which focuses on technology education, and previously was a staff member for U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, who helped launch DPS’s current reform agenda during his time as superintendent. Manuntseva works for a kombucha company.

In District 1, which encompasses southeast Denver, Baldermann led early with 49.7% of the vote, followed by Diana Romero Campbell, 31.2%, and Radhika Nath, 19.2%.

Baldermann is a stay-at-home father who previously owned an architecture business. Nath is a health policy researcher, and Romero Campbell is president of Scholars Unlimited, which offers tutoring and other services.

In District 5, which covers northwest Denver, Laurvick had a narrow lead, with 36.3% of the vote. Tony Curcio followed with 32.9%, and Julie Bañuelos brought up the rear with 30.9%.