Reformers lose one to a veteran teacher

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There’s a new piece on The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog with this headline: “Vergara vs. California: Are the top 0.1% buying their version of education reform?” Anybody paying attention to school “reform” knows that the answer to that question is that some folks in that group are trying their best. But they don’t always win. They didn’t in a highly contested Democratic primary race for a seat on Colorado’s state Board of Education.

The decisive winner for the District 1 seat was Valentina (Val) Flores, a veteran educator of more than 40 years backed by teachers’ unions. She won 59 percent of the vote. Opposing her was Taggart Hansen, a lawyer who had spent two years as a corps member in Teach For America and who was backed by groups financed by hedge fund managers and other very wealthy Americans, including Democrats for Education Reform, Stand for Children and Education Reform Now. The Denver Post endorsed him,  praising his support of the Common Core State Standards. Hansen, who took in about twice as much in donations as Flores, won 41 percent of the vote.

According to Chalkbeat  Colorado:

Flores sounded a bit stunned at her victory, saying, “I think the people won tonight. This is a great win for our children and our public schools.”

Her campaign manager, Dave Sabados, said, “I think Val’s message of good neighborhood schools resonated with voters. I don’t think Democratic voters want the Democrats for Education Reform agenda.”

The Denver Post’s voting guide reveals some of the differences between Flores and Hansen. Here’s on question, with answers from both:

There have been several major education “reforms” legislated — some as unfunded mandates — over the last few years. Prime examples include teacher evaluations and the so-called READ act, which seeks to have students able to read by grade level by the end of the 3rd grade. Explain why you feel they have or have not moved Colorado in the right direction.

Valentina “Val” Flores: It is very sad to see how teachers have been vilified by the media, because legislators do not have the fortitude to admit the failures of the legislature in funding schools.

Taggart Hansen: I support the education reforms – the status quo, in which generations of kids are being inadequately educated, is unacceptable. Such reforms must be funded and constantly evaluated for effectiveness.

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss | June 25