Update: Easley responds to DeFENSE Denver below our original item.
DeFENSE Denver, a self-described coalition of parents, students and educators, is one of the forces behind the recent recall attempt of Denver Public Schools board president Nate Easley. And the group has not taken kindly to the Denver Post calling the thwarted effort "a joke."
In an e-mail sent today, DeFENSE issued a call to arms in response to the Post editorial, which discounted the recall effort and predicted that if it's successful, which it hasn't been so far, "it will set back education reform in Denver and the reverberations will be heard across the country."
DeFENSE wholeheartedly disagrees.
The Denver Post thinks we're a joke. They say that we're just a "handful of people" that want to hold Easley accountable. Well, as you know from our reports about the unrest and push-back in response to the hostile takeover of the greater Montbello schools, it's not just a handful. It's an entire community, and Easley is feeling it. He even now claims he attended a meeting with parents recently!
Well, it's about time, Nate. But it's too little, too late.
HERE'S HOW TO PUSH BACK EVEN MORE
We need your help in responding to the mythology that the Denver Post is hawking. Choose one or all of the following actions:
* Please go to the online version of the article and post a comment in rebuttal * Please send a letter to the editor * Write an article on your favorite education, community-centered or political blog
The e-mail even contains talking points about Easley's alleged bad deeds. Among them:
- Being a rubber stamp for the school district
- Saying he would promote neighborhood schools during his campaign; then when elected, voting to increase the number of corporate charter schools
- Saying he would work with teachers collaboratively during his campaign; then when elected, conspiring with school officials to fire groups of teachers without a fair process
- Not being responsive to the concerns of the Montbello parents and students when he voted to shut down neighborhood schools without a comprehensive transition plan for students
That last issue is especially near and dear to DeFENSE, which campaigned heavily against the turnaround of Montbello High School and five other struggling schools in far northeast Denver. But the board ended up approving the plan anyway in November. Easley, who represents northeast Denver, voted for the turnaround plan, which entails hiring entirely new staffs at some schools and replacing other schools with charters.
We asked Easley for comment, and we'll update this blog post when we hear back. In the meantime, here's what Easley said on Thursday in response to news that a constituent, John McBride, had filed a petition to initiate a recall attempt against him.
Voting to maintain the status quo is easy! Our board has made some tough and bold decisions to ensure that progress continues, (i.e., turnarounds, new schools, co-locations). I am interested in providing Denver families with high-quality school options in every neighborhood. Doing so requires putting children ahead of politics.
In this case, however, both sides claim to be doing just that.
Update, 4:21 p.m. January 24: Easley has this to say about DeFENSE Denver's "talking points."
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"I stand behind every vote," he emphasizes. In reference to the turnaround plan, he adds, "I stand firmly behind the kind of education reform we voted in in far northeast Denver."
As for the recall effort, Easley says, "I think people are throwing up accusations that are baseless." But he said he has no doubt that the petitioners are passionate and that "they will push it through."
"I am ready to defend my record," he concludes.
More from our Education archive: "Scott and Stacie Gilmore are Montbello neighborhood icons: Kenny Be's Hip Tip."