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Denver Students Deserve a Unified Community

Friday, December 21, 2018  
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After a thorough national search, the Denver Public Schools board this week approved Susana Cordova as the District’s superintendent. Cordova, who formerly was the District’s deputy superintendent and is an alumna of the district, is an inspired choice and one that will benefit all of the District’s students.


During the time that I have known her, I have seen firsthand how Cordova has demonstrated herself to be a champion for all learners, all teachers and all of public education. She is guided by a genuine passion to generate the best outcomes for all students and families. She will be inclusive, fair-minded, thoughtful and equitable.


Cordova is deeply rooted in Denver Public Schools. Her mother served her entire career in the District, and Cordova grew up immersed in that experience. She is from Denver, of Denver, and holds deep respect for Denver Public Schools. In a time of great adversity, we need Cordova’s dedication, heart and lifelong experience to lead the District forward.


That is particularly important because any winning urban strategy in today’s education realities must expand the range of quality choices for an extraordinary diversity of learners while ensuring that those choices deliver consistently strong outcomes for families. While Cordova served under outgoing superintendent Tom Boasberg, she brings a personal identity, leadership mindset and practical wisdom that is very different than his. She can be trusted to continue his commitment to supporting all quality options and elevating all of public education without bowing to ideological biases or special interests.


Cordova has demonstrated that she is as fair-minded as she is tough, which is important in the current hyper-partisan environment. During the superintendent search, Denver education politics hit an all-time low. In some community meetings, unsavory tactics and accusatory language were used in attempts to intimidate school board members, teachers and administrators alike. This behavior reflects a zero-sum mentality – seeking to pit the supporters of some public schools against others rather than bringing people together to create the highest quality public schools for all learners and families in all neighborhoods of the City. Such inflammatory rhetoric should not be tolerated, and Cordova has the fierce grace to put it in check.


I know that Cordova’s strength and impartiality means that my fellow charter supporters and I will have to demonstrate success to win her backing. She will not support charter schools if their expansion comes with poor quality through which the promises to students and families are not met. At the same time, I believe that Cordova will hold the same standard for all school types – whether neighborhood, charter, magnet, innovation or alternative. If charters can deliver high quality outcomes for more students and families, I trust that she will support them.


Either public schools, regardless of type, elevate the achievement and learning of all students or they do not. If they do, they should be recognized, celebrated, supported and expanded so that they can benefit more students and families. If they do not, they should be called out, held accountable, and over time, closed because we simply cannot afford to waste tax payer resources on anything less than decisively better outcomes.


It is time for Denver to come together to support Susana Cordova as Denver Public Schools’ new superintendent. She deserves a genuine opportunity to demonstrate to the community what I already know – that her entire career has prepared her well for this experience. Cordova deserves our support, and our students need Cordova to garner our community’s support. And now that she has been announced as the superintendent, I hope you will join me in giving it to her.


About the Author: Benjamin J. Lindquist is President of the Colorado League of Charter Schools where Eric Duran, Cordova’s spouse, serves in a volunteer capacity as a member of the board of directors. He has a seven-year old child enrolled in Denver Public Schools.  

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