Moskowitz must involve parents in schools, Denverites say

Denver’s new superintendent won praise Thursday for setting high academic expectations but was criticized for a top-down management style that doesn’t go far enough to involve parents.

Irv Moskowitz was credited for his work years ago as a Denver administrator in helping establish the Career Education Center and the International Baccalaureate program at George Washington High School. Even those who criticized him during the search process said it’s time to put aside differences.

”I think we need to move forward to find common ground,” said Pierre Jimenez, president of Hispanics of Colorado. ”How do we get achievement for blacks and Hispanics up to a level so they can be competitive in the 21st century? . . . Those are the kind of issues we need to focus on as a community.”

Echoing that notion was Laura Lefkowits, whose children attend Park Hill Elementary and East High schools. Some parents worry Moskowitz’s reputation as an authoritarian won’t fit in a district that has given more power to parents and teachers, but Lefkowits is confident Moskowitz will adapt.

”He’s smart enough to know that if he takes any kind of heavy-handed, centralized, dogmatic approach in this community, he won’t be here very long,” she said.

Nita Gonzales, a Hispanic activist, said she’s concerned Moskowitz largely ignored Hispanic parents on such issues as bilingual education and the conversion from junior high schools to middle schools when he was with DPS in the 1980s.

”Our community is going to be very suspicious . . . , and he’s going to have to do a lot of work to show us he has changed,” she said.

The Rev. Oscar Tillman, president of the Denver chapter of the NAACP, charged the board’s search was rigged to select an ”Anglo male,” namely Moskowitz.

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