Recently, Chalkbeat (a local education policy online publication) sent me a questionnaire that included questions about my positions about certain education-related issues, but more ominously, asked for my date of birth so that they could collect a "background check."
C.R.S. 22-31-107 is the state statute that governs the qualifications of school board director candidates, and it states:
(5) (a) Any person who has been convicted of commission of a sexual offense against a child shall not be eligible for the office of school director of a school district. If a person becomes ineligible pursuant to the terms of this subsection (5) while serving as a school director, a vacancy shall be deemed to exist that shall be filled as provided in section 22-31-129.
My background has been checked at least three times in the recent past. I served as a classroom teacher for 15 years in the Denver Public Schools without incident, I was employed by the Colorado Department of Education, and most recently, I participated in yet another background check in my current position as a Family Service Worker with Catholic Charities.
Further, a criminal history is easily available from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for the "astronomical" sum of $6.85. They don't even need my approval.
Therefore, it seems to me that Chalkbeat's real intent is to disqualify candidates with backgrounds like mine by exposing personal financial history.
I have seen how this information has been used in the past to malign previous candidates of color from working-class backgrounds, as a way to disqualify them in the eyes of the electorate. And yet, in a district in which 70% of all families are considered low-income, the life experience of people from similar backgrounds means that DPS families can be more assured that their concerns will be heard and acted upon.
It's time that the people making decisions about our children's lives have first-hand experience with the lives our children actually live. No matter how much the current board tries to assert the contrary, they are affluent people who do not have to struggle in today's economy to keep a roof over their heads or food on the table...much like the families I support on the job, daily. These are precisely the same students who are most impacted by the careless decisions of school closures, co-locations and "turnarounds."
Therefore, I do not consent. I do not consent to a frivolous, classist financial background check of this sort, which does little more than to attempt to disqualify candidates from working-class backgrounds.
I will send in the questionnaire responses today under separate cover. It would be an insult to the families of DPS who struggle daily and still manage to keep the lights on in our district with their hard-earned tax dollars, to submit to such irresponsible and biased scrutiny.