APS teachers union won’t support candidates taking donations from education reform group

AURORAThe small donor committee of the Aurora Education Association passed a resolution that it will not endorse or support any candidates that accept donation money from Democrats for Education Reform or similar groups.

Democrats for Education Reform is a political action committee that advocates for expanding access to charter schools and stricter teacher evaluations, among other policies. It has chapters in eight states, including Colorado. 

The Colorado chapter has faced increasing opposition from the Democratic Party over the past several years. At the 2018 Colorado state Democratic assembly, the party voted to amend its platform to oppose DFER’s policies and called for it to remove the word “Democrat” from its name, according to reporting from Chalkbeat.

A statement released by the AEA, the teacher’s union for educators in Aurora Public Schools, said that DFER promotes policy that is “directly opposed to policy supported by the AEA” and it can “no longer support candidates who try to play both sides” by claiming to support the union and accepting money from DFER.

“Too often, corruption and avarice work their way into systems as soon as profit enters the equation,” the statement said. “This is fundamentally corrosive and damaging to public services and actively erodes their efficacy.”

In an email to the Sentinel, Colorado DFER director Jennifer Walmer said that she found the political rhetoric around education advocacy “exhausting.”

“This head in the sand approach and lies about DFER wanting to privatize the public education system, do little to address the needs of students, especially in places like Aurora where less than 30{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} of Black and Hispanic students are reading on grade level,” Warner said in a statement.

Bryan Lindstrom, a member of AEA’s elected seven-member small donor committee, said that drawing a “hard line” on DFER has been in the works for several years and is an issue he campaigned on.

Several candidates supported by DFER ran for seats on the APS school board in 2017 but were successfully defeated, Lindstrom said. The resolution is meant to make the union’s stance clear to candidates running for office at the state level, where the union is also involved.

The next state board of education election is in 2022. There is an Aurora Public Schools board of education election this fall for four seats.

The resolution was passed now so that the union’s position is clear to candidates well before the beginning of any campaigning for the next election cycle for the state board of education, he said.

“We want them to have the opportunity to do the right thing,” Lindstrom said.



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