Who Is In Charge

Stand backs endorsements with cash

The education advocacy group Stand for Children has contributed money to nine of the 18 legislative candidates it previously endorsed, according to the latest campaign financial reports filed with the secretary of state.

The Oct. 4 reports didn’t show a lot of other financial changes in most races of interest to education, except that opponents of amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 continued to raise and spend significant cash.

Organized last year, the state affiliate of Stand for Children is making its first foray into legislative politics after its involvement in Denver school board races in 2009.

Pile of cashThe group gave $4,000 each to House District 38 Democratic incumbent Joe Rice, House 47 Republican candidate Keith Swerdfeger, House 56 Democratic incumbent Christine Scanlan and Senate District 11 Democratic incumbent John Morse.

Contributions of $3,000 apiece went to House District 3 Republican candidate Christine Mastin, District 42 Democratic candidate Christine Fields and Senate District 6 candidate Ellen Roberts.

The group gave $2,000 to Republican incumbent Kevin Priola in House District 30 and $1,000 to Democrat-turned-independent Kathleen Curry in House 61, an incumbent who’s running a write-in campaign.

Candidates endorsed by Stand but receiving no money include House incumbents Jeanne Labuda, Mark Ferrandino and Beth McCann and senators Chris Romer and Mike Johnston. All are Democrats who represent Denver districts.

Endorsed challengers who didn’t get any cash include Democrats Angela Williams in House District 7, Pete Lee in House 18 and Cheri Jahn in Senate District 20. The group also endorsed but didn’t contribute to GOP incumbent Carole Murray in House District 45, who is running unopposed.

The Stand small-donor committee has raised $32,375 this year. Political committees affiliated with the Colorado Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers-Colorado have given much larger sums but didn’t report any new legislative contributions in the Oct. 4 filings. (See this Education News Colorado story for analysis of which education groups are supporting which candidates. And, see this story for more details on union contributions.)

Cash continues to flow for opponents of amendments

Coloradans for Responsible Reform, the main group opposing the three budget-cutting amendments, reported raising $443,797 and spending $887,390 in the most recent reporting period. The group has raised a total of about $6.4 million and reported only about $5,000 cash on hand.

Contributions of interest in the latest report include $50,000 from the Jobs and Schools First Committee of AFT-Colorado; $20,000 from Forest City, the company that redeveloped Stapleton; $100,000 from the Service Employees International Union, and $10,000 from the politically influential law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.

CO Tax Reforms, the group supporting the three measures, has raised a total of $17,438.

A new opposition group, the Colorado League of Responsible Voters, registered on Aug. 4 and has raised $322,600. It has about $136,000 on hand. CEA and the AFT’s Jobs and Schools committee have both contributed.

Cash continues to pile up the race for the at-large seat on the University of Colorado Board of Regents.

Incumbent Republican Steve Bosley reported raising $62,103 and having $39,184 on hand. Democrat Melissa Hart, a professor at the CU law school, reported raising $88,947 and having $69,197 on hand.

There are two more financial reporting deadlines, Oct. 18 and Nov. 1, before the election. Candidates and committees have to make a final report in December.


Aurora’s superintendent will get a contract extension

Aurora Public Schools Superintendent Rico Munn. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

The Aurora school board is offering superintendent Rico Munn a contract extension.

Marques Ivey, the school board president, made the announcement during Tuesday’s regular board meeting.

“The board of education believes we are headed in the right direction,” Ivey said. Munn can keep the district going in the right direction, he added.

The contract extension has not been approved yet. Munn said Tuesday night that it had been sent to his lawyer, but he had not had time to review it.

Munn took the leadership position in Aurora Public Schools in 2013. His current contract is set to expire at the end of June.

Munn indicated he intends to sign the new contract after he has time to review it. If he does so, district leaders expect the contract to be on the agenda of the board’s next meeting, April 3, for a first review, and then for a vote at the following meeting.

Details about the new offer, including the length of the extension or any salary increases, have not been made public.

Four of the seven members currently on the board were elected in November as part of a union-supported slate. Many voiced disapproval of some of the superintendent’s reform strategies such as his invitation to charter school network DSST to open in Aurora.

In their first major vote as a new board, the board also voted against the superintendent’s recommendation for the turnaround of an elementary school, signaling a disagreement with the district’s turnaround strategies.

But while several Aurora schools remain low performing, last year the district earned a high enough rating from the state to avoid a path toward state action.

cooling off

New York City charter leader Eva Moskowitz says Betsy DeVos is not ‘ready for prime time’

PHOTO: Chalkbeat
Success Academy CEO and founder Eva Moskowitz seemed to be cooling her support for U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

In New York City, Eva Moskowitz has been a lone voice of support for the controversial U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. But even Moskowitz appears to be cooling on the secretary following an embarrassing interview.

“I believe her heart is in the right place,” Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy, said of DeVos at an unrelated press conference. “But as the recent interviews indicate, I don’t believe she’s ready for primetime in terms of answering all of the complex questions that need to be answered on the topic of public education and choice.”

That is an apparent reference to DeVos’s roundly criticized appearance on 60 Minutes, which recently aired a 30-minute segment in which the secretary admits she hasn’t visited struggling schools in her tenure. Even advocates of school choice, DeVos’s signature issue, called her performance an “embarrassment,” and “Saturday Night Live” poked fun at her.  

Moskowitz’s comments are an about-face from when the education secretary was first appointed. While the rest of the New York City charter school community was mostly quiet after DeVos was tapped for the position, Moskowitz was the exception, tweeting that she was “thrilled.” She doubled-down on her support months later in an interview with Chalkbeat.

“I believe that education reform has to be a bipartisan issue,” she said.

During Monday’s press conference, which Success Academy officials called to push the city for more space for its growing network, Moskowitz also denied rumors, fueled by a tweet from AFT President Randi Weingarten, that Success officials had recently met with members of the Trump administration.

Shortly after the election, Moskowitz met with Trump amid speculation she was being considered for the education secretary position. This time around, she said it was “untrue” that any visits had taken place.

“You all know that a while back, I was asked to meet with the president-elect. I thought it was important to take his call,” she said. “I was troubled at the time by the Trump administration. I’m even more troubled now. And so, there has been no such meeting.”