DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — After a conservative board majority elected in 2009 has pushed a bold agenda that includes the nation’s first suburban voucher program and effectively crippled the teachers’ union in the district, an up-swell of anger from parents and the union itself has helped turn races for four board seats into the wildest school board contest in the country.
But Republicans, from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to the Colorado GOP and the Koch Brothers’ Americans For Prosperity, are flooding the race with resources to protect the board majority and an agenda of “market-based reforms”, as they call the changes.
They view Tuesday’s results as a referendum on conservative education reforms that they hope will be replicated by other districts around the country.
Democrats and union members, who’ve also spent heavily on these four races, also worry about the election being an inflection point, not just for education policy broadly but for their district, their teachers and schools.
“Teachers are leaving, morale has plummeted,” said union president Brenda Smith. “We’re worried that if this board stays in place, those trends will continue.”