"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Parents On Fire in Denver to Recall Corporate Stooge, Nate Easley

When Easley was campaigning to become the swing vote on the Denver Board of Education, he promised to sit down with parents to discuss the continuing corporate efforts to shut down and privatize Denver schools.  He lied.  Now a recall effort is underway.

Other communities should take heart and follow Denver's example.  The greedy fools who want education to follow the Wall Street model will not have their way if parents, teachers, and students continue to organize and to say, Enough!

I say stop watching democracy happen on TV 5,500 miles away in Cairo and start some in your own neighborhood.  Let's bring it democracy home--that's what the cringing corporate cowards are afraid of.
The initial steps to put a recall of Nate Easley on the May ballot has started.  A coalition of northeast Denver residents filed the following proposed language for the ballot:
We the qualified voters of Denver Public School District 4 demand the recall of current elected Denver Public Schools Board of Education member Dr. Nate Easley. Our demand is based on Mr. Easley’s activities related to conflicts of interest and allowing these to effect his representation of his District 4 constituency. Specifically, Dr. Easley’s roles as DPS Board of Education president and his job as Deputy Director of the Denver Scholarship Foundation make him subject to undue influence related to his votes as our representative. As a board member, Dr. Easley supervises the DPS superintendent, who also serves as on the DSF Board of Directors, thereby having direct influence over Dr. Easley’s employment. As Deputy Director of DSF, Dr. Easley receives a substantial salary, the threat to which compromises his ability to independently represent District 4. As a result, Dr. Easley has consistently voted for policies that are not reflective of his constituents’ interests, closing schools, supporting an atmosphere of distrust among District employees, and failing to provide sound fiscal oversight of DPS monies.
So what does this mean?  Once the language is approved, then community has 60 days to collect 5,363 signatures to place the issue on the ballot.  At that point, candidates who choose to run against Easley can step forward and collect their own signatures (they only need 50) to appear on the ballot as the replacement candidate.

THIS IS WHERE YOU COME IN. We need help to collect signatures from eligible voters, and you don’t need to live in northeast Denver to help. 

This is also a great opportunity for parents to speak up about concerns they have, about the turnarounds in Montbello, as well as what’s coming to near Northeast Denver.  Read the Denver Post article about the recall here.

Will you join us?  Click here to RSVP.  We can’t set the course aright for our schools without your help.  Please help us stand up and say “No More”! 
And here is the post from HuffPo on the 26th:
If you haven't been paying attention, it may surprise you to know that Denver faces one of the rarer political events in our democracy: recalling a representative from office. It will not surprise anyone that the recall effort is associated with another of Denver Public Schools Board of Education members. This time, however, the effort is not aimed at Andrea Merida, the most polarizing of DPS' board members. It is directed at the Board's president, Nate Easley.

Unlike the attempt to recall Merida, the community of NE Denver seems to be energized around getting rid of Easley. Their reasoning is pretty simple: because of a personal conflict of interest, Easley does not represent his constituents effectively.

The issue of conflicts of interest is at the forefront of Colorado politics at the moment, what with the controversy surrounding recently elected Secretary of State Scott Gessler. Upon taking office, Gessler decided that his government paycheck would not allow him to adequately provide for his family. So, like any good Republican, Gessler will keep a part time job as an attorney practicing election law.

Easley's plight is similar, except that school board representatives do not get paid. Easley works as the Deputy Director of the Denver Scholarship Foundation, an organization intimately associated with the Denver school system. In fact, District superintendent Tom Boasberg has an active leadership role on the foundation, as does Boasberg's closet school board associate, Theresa Peña. Together, Boasberg and Pena could exert tremendous professional pressure on Easley, who needs a paying job to feed his family.

On the other hand, as Board president, Easley is directly responsible for Boasberg's employment status at DPS. He oversees the preparation of Boasberg's professional evaluation. He has significant influence in Boasberg's compensation package. In theory, Boasberg should think of himself as reporting directly to Easley as long as Easley is Board of Education president.

As is typical in DPS, however, the tail wags the dog. Easley operates like Boasberg's henchman. If Boasberg wants it, Easley delivers. Nowhere is this clearer than in far Northeast Denver, which Easley represents.

In November, Easley voted to support closing schools, opening new charter schools, magnet schools, all with significant community opposition in Montbello and Green Valley Ranch. According to community members, they reached out to Easley on the issues surrounding the plan, and he was unresponsive.

Specifically, Easley missed multiple meetings with groups of community members, which is never a good policy for an elected official. Community members also point out that Easley has failed to notice meetings whereat school board members have discussed public business and made policy decisions, which has just fueled the fire of distrust between Easley and those he represents. Parents cite a general lack of accountability with Easley, who, they say, does not respond to emails or phone calls.

Far NE Denver resident Donna Moore, told me, "That's what Easley was elected to do - meet with us and represent us on the school board. He can't be bothered to do that, so he's got to go."

Most galling to some community members, however, is the belief held by some that Easley used Denver Scholarship Foundation funds to hire someone to interact with the community of NE Denver. In September, a CU Denver student sent an email to a group of community members, stating that he was attending meetings on Easley's behalf and that he was being paid to do so.

"Isn't that money [DSF funds] supposed to be used to help send our kids to college?" asked Jackie Skalecke, a far NE Denver resident and parent of a child at Montbello High School.

At a meeting held last Saturday, approximately 40 community members were volunteering to lead signature gathering efforts on the precinct level in NE Denver. Packets of registered voters sorted by precinct were available, and spirits were high. Plans were made to begin contacting registered voters by phone to facilitate the collection of signatures beginning this weekend.

"It's a lot of signatures, but I know we can do this," Skalecke told a group of parents.

The petition to recall Easley was approved by the Denver Election Commission at 1:00 PM today, January 26.

People interested in seeking information about the recall effort or wishing to participate should email info@defensedenver.com.

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