Meet DPS District 3 candidates Mike Johnson and Meg Schomp
- Age: 58
- Former social worker; former owner of a child-care center
- Four children, including a grown daughter who graduated from Denver School of the Arts and twelve-year-old twins who attend DSA and the Denver Green School
- Website: megschomp.com
Schomp was a DPS student and her mother was on the school board during the desegregation of the district in the '70s. Her family was in favor of integration, and Schomp worries that DPS is once again becoming segregated through the proliferation of charter schools.
"They will sift kids out or they will skim from other schools some of the best kids," she says. "And that's not the way a public-school system should work."
Schomp would like to see more attention and resources paid to the traditional neighborhood schools, which she defines as schools that kids can walk to. She says the district has been "very top-heavy" with charter schools and points out that while 23 percent of DPS schools are charters, they only serve 16 percent of DPS students.
"We really have been pushing charters and innovations beyond what we ought to be, and it's starved our neighborhood schools," she says.
Her own kids go to special programs within DPS (DSA is a magnet, and the Denver Green School is a neighborhood school with innovation status), and she says she's grateful that they exist. But she argues that many families have difficulty navigating the school-choice process, and she has concerns about some of the employment waivers sought by innovation and charter schools that allow them to disregard the teachers' union contract.
"I am concerned that we have had very rapid privatization of public schools," she says. She worries that decisions are made "because they're profitable rather than the best decisions for our children's education."
megschomp.com Meg Schomp and her family in a photo from her website.
Schomp thinks DPS needs to switch directions, toward increased parental involvement and transparency. She also believes the district needs to give its reform efforts time to take hold rather than trying something for a year or two and then ditching it in favor of the latest trend. Low-performing schools should be given three to five years to turn themselves around with support from the district, especially since closing them when there aren't quality options for students to transfer to "can destroy a community."
While Schomp supported 3A, last year's mill-levy override to benefit DPS, she was opposed to 3B, the $466 million bond issue. (Voters approved both.) Schomp says she didn't like the fact that $38.5 million of the $466 million was earmarked for a new high school in Stapleton, especially when nearby George Washington has empty seats.
Schomp thinks the word "reform" is a misnomer. "I think that it's status quo at this point," she says. "We're really at a tipping point right now, and if we don't balance some of the things going on in the district, we're headed down a very dangerous road."
For more candidate interviews, check back in with our cover story, "Drawing the Line."