Tom Boasberg: Friends of Education org surveys parents about superintendent's performance

Tom Boasberg, Denver Public Schools superintendent, is a much-scrutinized man. In addition to often serving as the target of petitions and publicly aired grievances, he's also evaluated each year by the school board. This year, the board will present its annual evaluation at a special meeting Thursday at noon. Crafting it is a private process with no formal opportunity for public feedback. But a new political organization, Friends of Education, surveyed the public anyway.

Friends of Education, a parent-run 527 organization designed to "add muscle to the voices of parents," circulated an online survey that asked respondents to rate Boasberg's performance. The short survey included questions about how well DPS prepares students for life after graduation and about Boasberg's leadership, accountability and competency. It also included a section in which respondents could leave comments.

The survey went live on Friday and ended at noon today with 1,228 people having completed it, says Friends of Education president Nicolas Weiser, a father of two young DPS students. Weiser says he created the survey to assess how the public feels about DPS's direction and leadership -- questions, he says, that aren't asked often enough.

"We hear positive things in the media and from groups like A+ Denver, who have a lot of enthusiasm for the district and its direction and the superintendent," Weiser says.

"But the survey results show that the public does not share the same enthusiasm for Boasberg that these groups have," he continues. "People don't have the same amount of confidence in the education their kids are receiving. And when people don't have confidence in the direction of the district, it brings up tough questions."

On a scale of one to five, respondents rated Boasberg's performance just below a three, on average, according to survey results provided to Westword by Weiser. Eleven percent gave Boasberg the highest rating, while 19 percent gave him the lowest.

With regard to whether DPS is preparing students for the future, most respondents gave the district a score of between three and four. The results were similar for a question on whether respondents were confident DPS would improve in the coming years.

As for the comments people left on the survey, Weiser collected them in a document that spans thirty-six pages. They range from exemplary -- "Best big city superintendent in the U.S.!" -- to not so much: "Please leave education."

Weiser says he plans to present the results to the school board -- though he says he's not after any particular outcome with respect to Boasberg. "People who've responded to the survey want their voices heard," he says.

More from our Education archives: "September school start? Mom touts petition she'll present to Denver Public Schools board."

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar