Andrea Merida, outspoken DPS board member, not running for re-election
Outspoken Denver Public Schools board member Andrea Merida will not run for re-election. In a blog post on her website (the full text of which is below), she explains why: "I cannot, in good conscience, serve on a board whose only function now is to give tests."
Merida was the subject of a 2010 Westword cover story that detailed her background, her controversial swearing-in, her frequent questioning of the administration and how she survived a recall attempt. Three years later, she's looking to a new role.
"What's been clear to me is that parents hold all the cards" when it comes to standardized testing and other aspects of public education, Merida says. "Parents can simply decide to drop their end of the rope and the tug of war is over."
After her stint on the board ends, Merida plans to do some grassroots organizing with parents who question whether state-mandated tests are beneficial. "This is a ball that parents need to pick up at this point, and I want to help them do that," she says. "They want to do it; they just need to be organized. And I'm a great community organizer."
Overall, Merida says she's not disillusioned with DPS. For instance, she says, the district has made some great strides in helping English language-learners, a population of kids she feels passionately about. But she is disheartened with the emphasis on testing and the district's adoption of the so-called Common Core Standards, a national initiative to bring state curriculum in line with one another. And she's turned off by the what she says is too much outside money being spent in the DPS school board race, a phenomenon she sees as connected to the proliferation of standardized testing.
"The reason that outside money is being spent is to perpetuate standardized testing, because it's lucrative for people," she says. "That's not in the best interest of kids."
Merida is proud of her three years on the board. She notes that none of the schools in southwest Denver, which she represents, have been closed or converted to charter schools during her tenure. "I've created a firewall around my schools," she says. "I've forced the district to look at our communities as being capable of handling our own solutions."
Below, read what Merida posted on her website on Thursday. It includes a call for parents to attend a meeting she's organizing in February 2014 on how parents can opt their children out of DPS's standardized testing.
One thing is for certain: Without Merida, the school board will be much less interesting.
Continue to read the full text of Merida's blog post.