4 DPS seats on ballot Challenger proposes private-school scholarship fund

Dale Sadler admits that when people hear his proposal for a state scholarship fund benefiting private schools, they think he’s out to hurt public schools.

But Sadler, a trial lawyer who’s running for an at-large Denver school board seat against incumbent Les Woodward, calls it a ‘win-win.’ Under his plan, modeled on a system in use in Arizona, Coloradans could claim a $ 500 tax credit for making a donation to a scholarship fund. Half the fund’s dollars would go to private schools, half to public schools.

Woodward, a corporate attorney seeking his second term, says that would harm public schools because every time a student leaves the public system for a private school, the state withholds the per-pupil operating revenues allocated to that student.

‘From the point of view of a school board member, it doesn’t make any sense,’ Woodward says.

But if scholarships are extended only to low-performing students, then the public schools lose only their costliest kids, Sadler replies. They might even save money.

‘If it costs more to educate the failing kid – and that cost exceeds the money that you receive as income for that kid – then it’s a net plus for that kid to move to another environment and actually succeed in that environment,’ Sadler says.

The concept is the main point of contention between Woodward and Sadler, both agreed.

Also appearing on the at-large ballot will be anti-bilingual education activist Rita Montero, though she decided not to campaign after deciding Sadler has a good chance of defeating Woodward.

Voters in the northeast have a second decision to make: Five candidates are vying to represent them at Denver Public Schools headquarters.

Candidates seeking to represent south-central and southwest neighborhoods – incumbent Elaine Gantz Berman and newcomer Michelle Moss, respectively – are running unopposed. The candidates

Denver Public School

Board: At-large

Jerry Duran

Did not respond

Dale Sadler

Age: 51

Occupation: Trial attorney

Education: J.D., 1976; B.S.C., 1972, both from University of Santa Clara (Calif.).

Community service: I have provided hundreds of pro bono legal hours for the benefit of the Denver chapter of the NAACP and provided legal advice to Denver Urban League employment-dispute referrals. I provided more than 370 pro bono hours, studying the learning gap, public-educational reform and educational civil rights. I have attended educational seminars at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C., and participated as a panelist at the Independence Institute in Golden. I witnessed the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ oral arguments concerning limited vouchers for minority children in the Cincinnati public school system. I have delivered community-motivational speeches on the subject of civil rights. I am well informed on the local and national issues surrounding public educational civil rights and the learning gap. I have assumed a leadership role in the national public school reform movement by successfully petitioning the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to investigate the miseducation of Colorado’s disadvantaged children. I led the legal strategy and presentation of the October 2000 petition to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to investigate, study and eradicate the learning gap and such educational conduct contributing thereto. I am an ordained elder.

1. Do you favor CSAP tests? Do you favor school report cards? Why or why not?

I favor the CSAP and school report cards as a necessary means of measuring academic progress and the effectiveness of public schools. But I recognize that CSAP fails to factor in teacher effectiveness, unequal distribution of education resources or varied socio-economic conditions. All schools must provide quality and equal education.

2. What is your position on bilingual education?

Children progress at different levels. We must avoid language mandates that fail to meet the best interest of children. I support bilingual education for all children, regardless of race or national origin. I support the right of all children to learn second languages. A bilingual education has global advantages.

3. Should teacher and administrator pay be based on performance? Why or why not?

I support performance pay. Care must be taken to provide fair standards of measuring outcome-based performance. Unless the socio-economic context of the classroom is factored in, teacher merit pay may not encourage professional growth. We must re-create education service delivery, so as to foster opportunities, while eliminating the learning gap.

Les Woodward

Age: 69

Occupation: Lawyer

Education: B.S., University of Nebraska; LLB, Harvard Law School

Community service: Denver Chamber of Commerce (director 1973-1977); Colorado Commission on Higher Education (member 1977-86); Public Education Coalition (director 1985-93); Denver school board (1999-present).

1. Do you favor CSAP tests? Do you favor school report cards? Why or why not?

I support academic standards and the CSAP exams as both an assessment and instructional tool for teachers. I also support school report cards as an accountability tool to provide parents with information about the schools. Grading schools solely on the basis of CSAP scores is insufficient, however. School performance should be judged on the achievement growth of each student, which is not measured by the CSAP test. School ratings do, however, provide useful information in determining where to focus improvement efforts.

2. What is your position on bilingual education?

I support the English Language Acquisition program of the Denver Public Schools that has been implemented pursuant to a modified court order entered in 1999. A clear goal of the ELA program is that each student becomes fluent in English within three years and be taught in English. I believe that teaching in Spanish and in supported English classrooms during the transition supports the student’s subject-matter growth. I believe that the ELA programs’ requirement for parental choice as to how a child is taught is also very important.

3. Should teacher and administrator pay be based on performance? Why or why not?

I strongly support the Teacher-Pay-For-Performance Pilot Project initiated by the Denver Public Schools and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association. This pilot project seeks to develop a salary system in which teachers’ salaries will be based in part upon student achievement, as measured by fair and rigorous objectives. I believe the result of the pilot will be the design of a system that will more fairly compensate effective teachers and improve student academic achievement.

District 2

Michelle Moss

Age: 43

Occupation: Teacher

Education: Master’s degree, University of Northern Colorado

Community service: Board member, Colorado AGBEll; school volunteer; former Democratic captain, District 1

1. Do you favor CSAP tests? Do you favor school report cards? Why or why not?

CSAP measures how well students are grasping the state standards. If we use the information from CSAP to help improve instruction and better meet the needs of children, I favor it. I do not favor school report cards that evaluate a school based on a single testing instrument.

2. What is your position on bilingual education?

We must move children as quickly as possible into mainstream classrooms where English is the language spoken. Bilingual education must be a transitional program that focuses on the needs of children. We must provide parents with choices and we must do a better job recruiting qualified bilingual teachers.

3. Should teacher and administrator pay be based on performance? Why or why not?

Student performance is the product that teachers and administrators produce. The concern for me is how we measure that performance. The Pay-for-Performance Pilot in DPS now is a cooperative effort between teachers and the district to design a system that will compensate effective teachers. I support this pilot.

District 3

Elaine Gantz Berman

Age: 53

Occupation: President of Denver Board of Education

Education: Master’s degree in public health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Community service: Colorado Children’s Campaign, Jewish Community Center, Colorado Non-Profit Development Center, DPS Foundation

1. Do you favor CSAP tests? Do you favor school report cards? Why or why not?

Yes, I support CSAP tests. Test scores are but one indicator of student learning. CSAPs should be used as an instructional tool to measure individual student growth over time. I support school report cards, which DPS has been issuing for the past two years, as a way to assist parents in selecting the best school environment for their child and CDMs (collaborative decision-making teams) in planning for continuous school improvement.

2. What is your position on bilingual education?

I believe non-English-speaking children should learn English as quickly as possible. I support the English Language Acquisition program currently implemented in DPS, whose goal it is for each student to become fluent in English within three years. Younger children learn more quickly than high school students, but the vast majority of students should be able to learn English within three years. I also believe, as a person who is fluent in both English and Spanish, that as citizens we should speak more than one language.

3. Should teacher and administrator pay be based on performance? Why or why not?

The intent of the Pay-For-Performance project currently underway in DPS is to strengthen the relationship between student performance and teacher compensation. I continue to be a strong proponent of this pilot in the hope that at this end of this project we will understand how to link teacher compensation to student performance in a fair manner.

District 4

Earl Cornish

Age: 66

Occupation: Retired engineer and businessman

Education: B.S. in science, Colorado State University

Community service: Coordinator of The Academic Sales Program

1. Do you favor CSAP tests? Do you favor school report cards? Why or why not?

Yes. Accountability is absolutely necessary for any human system. Educators are no exception. We spend a great deal of our community’s resources on public education for the purpose of educating our youth, and we should expect this job to be done. The results of the CSAP tests thus far indicate that DPS is not delivering the instruction our kids need. In fact, the results are appalling. It clearly indicates they have been in defiance rather than compliance with standards-based instruction.

2. What is your position on bilingual education?

I believe that our community is trying to sort this issue out at the moment, and I am no exception. I am not certain at this time what my position is on bilingual education. One thing I am certain of, however, is that no matter who these kids are, and no matter how they arrived here, they are our kids now, and they must be educated.

3. Should teacher and administrator pay be based on performance? Why or why not?

I am not certain about this one, but I know that if administrators are to be paid on performance, then that performance must be the performance of the unit they are responsible for. Individual teachers should be rewarded for measurable improvements in the students directly under their instruction.

Kevin Patterson

Age: 36

Occupation: Director of administrative services for the Planning Office, city and county of Denver.

Education: BA in teaching, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas; master’s degree in public administration, University of Colorado at Denver; master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning, University of Colorado at Denver

Community service: As a volunteer with the Denver Public Schools, I have been an active member of the PTSA, the Citizens Budget Advisory Committee and was instrumental with the program and building design of the new Green Valley Ranch school. I am also a Cub Scout leader in my neighborhood with my sons.

1. Do you favor CSAP tests? Do you favor school report cards? Why or why not?

Yes. CSAPs and the idea of school report cards are in Colorado’s school-reform plan to set standards, align curriculum with standards, and use standards-based tests to guide teaching and inform parents. School report cards should track student progress over time to be fair to diverse populations.

2. What is your position on bilingual education?

Education should respond to the needs of children and families. Bilingual, ESL and English immersion are strategies. Families should be able to choose for each child. In the global economy, knowledge of languages is essential. But children learn differently, and excellent schools offer high-quality options.

3. Should teacher and administrator pay be based on performance? Why or why not?

DPS is testing pay-for-performance in a pilot with community, administrative and union support. I support the test and withhold judgment until the results are in. We are retooling education to prepare all children for the global, information-based economy. If pay-for-performance works, use it. If not, let’s find better tools.

John V. Smith

Age: 70

Occupation: Retired educator; editor, Greater Far Northeast Reporter LLC; Realtor

Education: University of Colorado, master’s in school administration; Paul Quinn College, B.S. degree in science

Community service: President of Far Northeast Neighbors Inc., 1991-2000; Maxwell Elementary CDM; PDAC at Greenwood Elementary and new middle school; vice president of Foundation for Educational Excellence.

1. Do you favor CSAP tests? Do you favor school report cards? Why or why not?

Yes, I favor CSAP tests and school report cards. They are good measures of our performance against standards. It is a reality test. It gives parents and communities a means to compare district programs. 2. What is your position on bilingual education?

The fundamental policy question is, does one favor transition or maintenance? Public education should be working to transition second-language learners to English in a reasonable time frame, three to four years, for example. Options should be available within the system for children to experience bilingual and multilingual opportunities.

3. Should teacher and administrator pay be based on performance? Why or why not?

Fundamentally, I am for it. It should be fair, equitable and just. It must be clear, measurable and have an obtainable objective.

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