Meet DPS District 2 candidates Rosario C. de Baca and Rosemary Rodriguez
- Age: 58
- State director for U.S. Senator (and former DPS superintendent) Michael Bennet
- One grown son, a graduate of East High School
- Website: rosemaryfordenverskids.com
Rodriguez grew up in southwest Denver and, aside from a two-year stint in Washington, D.C., where she served on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, has lived there all her life. She has held several public positions for the city, including clerk and recorder from 1997 to 2002 and city councilwoman from 2003 to 2007. In 2012, she briefly worked for the Obama campaign.
Rodriguez thinks serving on the school board is the most important job in Denver, and she likes the direction DPS is headed in, though she says the district isn't improving quickly enough.
Parents in her district want more options for where to send their kids to school -- and it doesn't matter whether those options are neighborhood schools or charter or innovation schools, as long as they're high-quality, she says. One thing good schools have in common is a strong leader. "The principal can really make a difference," Rodriguez says, "and that's why we have to work so hard on training them and giving them the resources they need."
As for teachers, Rodriguez says she believes the district needs to respond immediately with help and mentoring when a teacher is struggling. "If, after providing support, they're unable to meet our expectations and, most importantly, bring their kids along, then I think everybody appropriately would ask, 'Is this the right situation for them?'" she says.
rosemaryfordenverskids.com Mayor Michael Hancock in a photo from Rodriguez's website.
She's in favor of co-locating charter schools with district-run schools, especially if buildings are being underutilized. And she supports taking drastic steps to improve a school. "The idea that we would let a school not serve its kids for indefinite periods of time to me is unacceptable," Rodriguez says, though she adds that she could envision keeping a neighborhood school a neighborhood school if that's what parents wanted.
DPS doesn't always do a good job of communicating with parents about how a school is failing and why change is needed, Rodriguez says. If it did, controversial proposals might not be so controversial. "I think the more you educate people about the reasons, the more likely you are to agree on the facts. And then once you agree on the facts, you take the next step."
Rodriguez believes one of the biggest issues facing DPS -- and her district, in particular -- is how to educate Latino students, who make up more than half of the district's students. "We have a lot of exceptions out there who are doing very, very, very well," she says, including STRIVE Prep. "We need to do it to scale."
For more candidate interviews, check back in with our cover story, "Drawing the Line."