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Election Guide 2018: Education


Board of Education

Johnny Barrett

Barrett is a businessman running for a Congressional District 2 seat on the Colorado State School Board. Through business he has worked with international education systems, and he has advocated local school districts for Individualized Education Plans.

Major Issues: “Student achievement. Hands down. We have over half of our kids not proficient.  We need to be at 8/10. It’s lofty to say, we should have all kids at 100 percent. If we went even to 6/10 that’s an increase. And I’m saying we should go up to 8/10, let’s make it a goal that everybody can get behind and go for that goal.”

Classroom improvements: The major issues classrooms are that we have too much issues whether its political or social coming down on schools and we need to get back to reading, writing, arithmetic. We lose sight. It’s like a bow and arrow, we have the target there but if you’re looking out and around, you’re going to miss the target more often than not. We need to get our kids and grandkids back to a spot where they can be successful. That’s only fair.”

Inequality of education: It really comes down to the local school boards and the decisions they’re taking. When we look at the basics and lower it to the lowest common denominator, kids aren’t reading, writing, and doing the math. There are some lower schools that are doing great and some higher schools that are not. It’s unfair for state or federal to come in and say, ‘and thou shall do it this way.’ I think the teachers know what needs to be done.”

Qualifications: “I have hired from education systems from all over the world. I know how do deal with people from other school systems. Equally so, I have a special needs kid currently enrolled in school, and I’ve dealt with school districts. IEP, that individual education plans. Normal teacher conferences. I’ve been a parent that is very active in the system. I think it’s important for parents to be active in this system. I want parents to understand they have a voice. As a business man, I’ve ran with budgets. I’ve been in planning almost my entire career in terms of what we need to do to set goals, how to grow, how to achieve, results matter and that’s really what I’m about.”

Angelika Schroeder

Schroeder is running for re-election on the Colorado Board of Education. She has experience working as a certified public accountant. She has a PhD in accounting teaching at Metro State College and the University of Colorado. She’s currently in her 10th year on the State Board of Education.

“What is it like?” You need to have a fairly good understanding of the consequences of your decisions. I’ve been at the higher ed, so I do understand that piece. But I’ve also studied education, brain research on learning. There’s just a lot to learn. I really do love the job. I’m very passionate about the opportunity for all kids to have an education.”

Major Issues: The achievement gap that we have between groups of kids….We have a very highly educated adult population and I think that a lot of kids learning are from the home, so we do perform well, but we have not figured out on the large scale how to help all kids. “

“Our high school kids need to know where to go after graduation. So we’re trying really hard to change the [college] expectation so that all our kids reach academic standards, based on what’s needed in all walks of life, So that’s been a big part of my job this last year. We’ve revised the standards. We are working toward no longer having just very narrow academic graduation requirement.”

Standardized testing: The tests do identify where there are pockets of schools that aren’t happening for kids. So we spend a lot of time worrying about the tests, but what we really needed to be worrying about those kids. We also don’t have a statewide curriculum. Every district has statewide standards that say what kids should know, but how that’s delivered to kids is done district by district, which is a real limit in terms of how much oversight there can be.”

Continuing to build:  Colorado embarked on a reform agenda some years ago, I want to be around to see what difference does it make? What difference has it had?  You have to watch a little bit longer. The educator evaluation, the teacher evaluation piece has been very controversial. I’ve seen some school districts and schools really embrace how do you use that to become better teachers. There’s still a lot of pushback. I want to watch that.  

Tim Krug

Krug is running for the a seat on the Board of Education in the fourth congressional district. He ran a chain of private English conversation schools in Japan for 10 years. He has two kids currently in school now, second and third grade.

Major Issues: Primarily to give parents a stronger voice on the state board of education, currently only one of the members has kids enrolled in public schools… so I think the parental experience is not being represented.” 

“I would also like to see a drastic change in standardized testing. We do more standardized testing than the federal government requires for their grants and funding. And at the same time we are also tying standardized test scores to teachers’ performance. My parents starting a testing and assessment company in 1983, I’ve been around it my whole life… The two biggest factors that determine a student’s success, is their family’s wealth and education level. A teacher can only influence a test score, at most, 10 percent.”

Classroom improvement: “I would really like to look at the standard (designated by the board), because it’s arbitrary. There is no national standard, so it kind of depends on what the board is saying, ‘this is what the standard should be…’ what we need to do is bring in some more support in terms of funding to our schools, especially those that are struggling. We’re looking at schools as if they’re starting on the same playing field, and they aren’t at all. We’ve really should be sending money to the ones that are struggling. It’s the at-risk student populations that are going to get hurt – special education, English language learners, students who qualify for free reduced lunch.”

Plans: “There’s the two things that I really want to tackle:  standardized testing and teacher shortages… The 3,000 position teachers shortage is only going to get worse because our universities are seeing a close to a 30 percent decline in freshmen who are entering education programs. So not only do we have a shortage now, but we’re, we are now going to be graduating a third less of the amount of people who want to become teachers. And for the first time in the United States parents, our parents do not want their children to go into education programs.”

Fixes: “Last year a bill was introduced House Bill 1232, which was supported by 171 of 178 school superintendents in Colorado, which is pretty unheard of. It was going to rewrite the Public School Finance Act, so 1232 would weight students in a different way because we know educating a special education student costs more than educating a difficult typically-developed student. On the current funding flooding, the average teacher salary out in rural Colorado is, I believe it’s $34,000 a year and they literally, 90 percent of them can’t meet the cost of living even in rural Colorado because it’s still Colorado. House Bill 1232 is going to give these different categories of students slightly more weight, so it’s based on the district… 73 is on the November ballot that will bring $1.6 billion Colorado schools. That is something that we absolutely, absolutely need. Amendment 73 is not more than we need. It’s not even close to Colorado’s 21 percent below the national average in education.”

Deborah Shiffel

Refused repeated requests for interview. 



CU Regents

Ken Montera

Montera is a third generation Coloradan. His family has two generations of steel workers and farmers in Pueblo. He was the first in his family to be able to go to college with a scholarship, the president’s leadership class scholarship at CU, where he pursued a business degree, emphasis in marketing and international finance. He’s worked for four fortune 200 companies.
“I had responsibility for about 40,000 employees and about 2 ½ to 3 billion dollar operating budgets….I’m in the board of regents, and I believe I’ve got the skill set, the background and the experience, and I guess more than anything the desire to help people like myself that got an opportunity to do something and I think there’s a lot of young people in our state that could probably use that help.”

Role as Regent: I think it’s pretty similar to the mandate, the first thing, I think the responsibility of the regent is to set the strategy of the University that’s focused on the health of the students and faculty both academically and financially. I believe that we have to be the governors of the budget process and manage any inflationary aspects of the University, or at least maintain affordable tuition for the students. I believe that third, which it did mention in the mandate, is the selection of the president and or termination if they’d be leader of the system.”

Goals: “I believe that we really have to get our arms around ensuring that CU education is affordable to most families in this state. Especially those that are qualified and that have a desire to go there. You know over the past decade we’ve lost about 60% of the legislative funding for the University. We’ve gone from the mid-twenties to about 4%. I also believe that any time you oversee a 4 billion dollar budget there’s opportunity to reduce bureaucracy, evaluate policy and really understand the cost value relationship to the decisions that we’re making. Thirdly, we’ve done a phenomenal job of research in our university, but I’m not so sure that we’ve done a great job of marketing that to the degree that we can drive additional fundraising and even more research support going into the future.”

Freedom of speech on campus: “I’m a huge advocate of freedom of speech, and I think if you believe in freedom of speech, what you have to ensure is that you can’t just unilaterally determine who gets that freedom and who doesn’t get that freedom. As long as there’s non-violent activity, then you almost have to allow freedom of speech for groups that are not violent and/or disrespectful.”

Undocumented students: I believe that every individual that’s here has the right to an education. I believe that the state legislation has already made that determination and is allowing that to occur at our campuses in the state.”

Spending priorities: “As I mentioned, what I’m most concerned about is managing the costs centered around tuition. What I would want to have a strong voice in is the evaluation of any new degree programs, and things that are incremental to existing expenditures and even the evaluation of what’s being spent right now.”

Lesley Smith

Smith just retired from CU Boulder, after 29 years of being a scientist and educator. She spent eight years on the Boulder Valley School District Board.
“If I were elected, I would be the only voice of faculty on the board when it makes the important decision of who to hire for the next president. I have a passion for education, having been an educator myself and serving on the school board and now wanting to serve the state and the University of Colorado system.”

Role as Regent: Board of Educations are not partisan. I feel like education should not be a partisan issue. The board oversees the president and first time in a decade will be hiring a new president. Overseeing the $5.4 billion budget. Ensuring that the policies that run the university are being followed, updating and developing new policies as the need arises.”

Main goals: “How can the regents make tuition more accessible and affordable? The Boulder campus now has their guaranteed tuition. This semester they dropped class fees, which I call hidden fees. Accessibility is a real issue. The Regents have funding for online education. I’m a proponent of that to cut down costs for students.”

Freedom of Speech: I know the Boulder campus everyone thinks of as this vast liberalism but we’ve brought in some very controversial speakers to the Boulder campus and we’ve not had an incident. Of course I’m all for freedom of speech and the first amendment. I think the way that our leaders have allowed controversial speakers come to campus by providing alternative speakers that may be more in line with a majority of the students to go listen to them or partake in some activities that would be more in line with their interests versus them going and having a violent protest when these speakers come. I think the University of Colorado has done a good job of balancing those two things.”

Undocumented students: Definitely. I’m very happy that the chancellors of all the campuses, as well as the regents, to continue to say that we will support undocumented students to come to CU. Certainly when I was on the school board for Border Valley the asset bill was attempted a few times before it passed and that bill allowed undocumented students that graduated from Colorado high schools to apply to the public schools and pay in state tuition.  I have a track record for supporting undocumented students and I would continue to support them to be on campus.”

Spending priorities: We are rated the number one efficient public university in the US. I’m also worried about compensation for staff, faculty and graduate students. We need all of them to make the system run…We have to continue to be economically competitive.”

Christopher Otwell

Otwell is the chief architect at GPS Ground Control and is an adjunct professor for the Colorado Technical University. 

“On any given day, I deal with problems and projects that could spend millions of dollars. The CU Regent deals with a multi-billion dollar budget. The program I’ve been engineer for, as a Chief Platform Engineer, is a lot of ways designing a better future for the greater of humanity.”

Role as Regent?: The CU regents get together basically a little more than a weekend per month, and for at least two full weeks throughout the year, to discuss the budgets, to discuss policy, to discuss what they’re going to focus on for improving education, improving policy and making changes. An engineer finds ways to get people together to build coalitions, get all the stakeholders involved, and we find answers to solutions even if they’re not the 100 percent answer of any one person.

Main goals: “To diversify the student population and expand the ability for all levels of education to be available to all levels of the student base and population of Colorado. Regardless if they need financial help, we’ll find ways to do it. If they need access, because Colorado is a large state and people can’t expect to move or drive five hours for a set of classes every week. We need to bring them into education by giving people, even in the remote areas of the state, an opportunity to have a college education by the modernization of the system.”

Freedom of Speech: In order to expand diversity and understand other’s backgrounds, you have to have a no tolerance policy towards discrimination and/or the prevention of freedom of speech. Now, granted there is gonna be viewpoints from all sorts of people that shouldn’t necessarily be promoted but at the same time this is a free country and every organization has a right to have a voice.”

Undocumented students: Undocumented students as with those with questionable citizenship, they should not be prohibited from gaining the ability to learn themselves in order to better their own lives. Everybody has their own background, everybody has where has where they came from. I spent many years living in Germany and got to see of a lot of people’s cultures and how they interacted.”

Spending priorities: Outreach to gain additional students and provide diversity, and stabilize all costs so that when a student enters college as a freshman it’s the exact same price he has to pay when he graduates with a Bachelor’s degree. The modernization of the education system, bringing it to the 21st century instead of the 19th century, and ensuring that every student is fully aware of what it costs and to keep the costs down such that every student has the capability of becoming educated through the college system.”

 James K. Treibert


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