Right now, America is engaged in a major debate over the future of education -- a debate that has been marked by a lot of overheated rhetoric and divisiveness about politics, but not enough substance about how to fix our schools for our kids.
As I've spent my summer talking to voters here in Southeast Denver as a candidate for Denver School Board in District 1, I am encouraged to see that, despite all the sound and fury, most people are looking for the basics: they want better schools and they want a local school board that maintains independence from the Denver Public School administration to focus on pushing the system in the right direction.
Right now, the 51.8% graduation rate in DPS is simply appalling. Same thing for the remediation rate -- more than half of graduating DPS seniors now need remedial courses when they reach college, and the Denver Post reports that remediation rates are on a steady rise in Denver Public Schools. It's no surprise that in light of that number, a recent poll found fewer than a third of all Denver voters now have a positive view of DPS.
Put simply, we are facing an education emergency in Denver and people clearly want new school board leaders who haven't been a part of the problem. They want a school board member who brings new ideas and new experience to the table.
It's time to start prioritizing our parents' concerns, not the special interests of professional politicians. It's time to address our children's needs, rather than playing politics. It's time for a school board that listens and that has the independence and courage to push the right kinds of changes in DPS -- the kind of changes that involve the whole community and don't just make more excuses for failure.
This is why I'm running for the school board in District 1 -- because I'm a concerned parent who is sick of the DPS administration's canned excuses and who knows it's time for change.
I'll be the first to admit to you that I'm not a candidate who represents the DPS status quo -- I come to this race with a different kind of experience than those insiders who seek to keep making excuses for failure.
I've been a community organizer here in Denver and I also worked at the state and federal level for a governor, a congressman and a senator. In each of these roles, it's been my job to involve the broader community in making real change.
Already, our campaign has been gaining steam -- over the last month, I've met hundreds of voters, our campaign has signed up scores of campaign volunteers at our website www.sirotaforschools.com, we've received terrific grassroots fundraising support, and our campaign has been endorsed by State Rep. Joe Miklosi, City council president Chris Nevitt and State Sen. Evie Hudak.
Though I've been knocking on doors and walking neighborhoods all summer, we are officially kicking off our campaign on August 14th from 1 to 4pm at a picnic in Cook Park at Monaco and Cherry Creek Drive. I hope you'll join us. It's time for change. It's time for a leader who listens.
Follow Emily Sirota on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Sirota4Schools