May 4, 2020


DPS’s Corruption, Lies, and Failure to Fund Our Kids

It’s that time of year again, when DPS finance department tries to pull the sheet over our head and push budgets through that are in no way aligned with the district’s stated values and priorities, or what is best for our children. The district tries to misdirect us by putting out communications and plans speaking in platitudes about the commitment to equity and social emotional learning, but we want to see the receipts!

For the past 15 years, DPS has been led by administrations that believe deeply in the ideology of high stakes testing and choice systems. This means that most of the district budget and central staff attention is focused on mechanisms to test, oversee, and rank schools and educators, rather than on the resources and support that kids need to thrive. For all the spending and effort, all that our students get as a result is that they are shuffled around from one building to another as schools lose funding for essential programming and ultimately close. If the district leadership was really leading with an ideology of equity and justice we’d see a completely different budget - one that prioritizes more school staff, including support staff like mental health providers, social workers, tutors, and extracurricular instructors, with significantly lower central office staff. 

There has been a growing movement of parents, students, and educators calling for a deep priority on equity and social emotional learning in DPS, and asking for counselors instead of cops, culturally relevant curriculum, restorative justice practices, and access more rigorous coursework for students of color, among other similar things. The majority of voters in November agreed with shifting DPS’s priorities to focus on supports for students and filled all three vacant seats with new school board members that ran on that platform. And still, whenever we advocate for those investments that our children and educators deserve, DPS pushes back, claiming we don’t have the budget to fulfill this demand from their constituents. 

So where is the money going and does that spending align with our values and priorities? Margaret Bob, a long-time education activist in Denver and retired teacher who worked within DPS for 35 years, has done a deep dive into DPS’s records. She filed several CORA reports to look at the actual data behind the claims DPS administration made last year to explain budget spending. She found a clear pattern of the district leadership giving highly misleading information to the public and to the school board in order to access funds that they ultimately spent on more positions and raises for central office staff against the wishes of constituents and the platforms of the officials they elected. 

Lies vs. Facts : What you need to know
The following table outlines the lies or misleading information that have been told by Susana Cordova and/or others in her administration, and the real information that they are trying to conceal: