Candidate-Community Q&A: Southwest Denver District 2

This is the third in a series of four posts featuring unedited videos of Denver Board of Education candidates answering questions posed to them by community members.

We encouraged community members to come up with questions on relevant issues, and to ask them on video. We also invited all candidates to be recorded offering their responses, and allowed them to answer at the length they felt was appropriate.

Again: These videos are unedited. What you see on these videos is exactly what was recorded; nothing more, nothing less.

All candidates were given the opportunity to participate; some chose not to accept the invitation and in some cases said their schedules would not allow it. Of the two candidates for the District 2 seat, representing Southwest Denver, one Karolina Villagrana, sat for an interview. The other candidate, Xochitl Gaytan, declined the invitation to participate.

In the coming weeks, we look forward to connecting or reconnecting with all Denver school board candidates. Look for more in-depth written interviews with the candidates, as well as coverage of candidate forums, debates, and other events.

What questions would you like to ask the candidates, and what issues would like to see addressed? Please contact us at [email protected] with your questions and comments.

Again, this week we feature candidates for the seat representing Southwest Denver, District 2.

The candidates are:

Karolina Villagrana: Karolina Villagrana is an experienced leader and educator, who has always sought to influence education policy and connect it with best practices. Karolina leverages a history of school leadership, management, strategic planning, innovation, and community building. She has served as Principal-in-Residency, Assistant Principal, Instructional Coach, and both a founding teacher and classroom teacher. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado-Denver and holds a Master’s Degree from Columbia University in Educational Leadership.

Key quote: “I became an educator and am now running for Denver School Board because I know so many of our students feel that education is not intended for them. Our students, our Southwest Denver kids, deserve the best quality education, and as a strong multi- generational and multicultural community, we can build a better future for our kids together. Born and raised in Denver, I experienced many of the issues facing our children today.”

Campaign website:

Xochitl Gaytan: Xochitl Gaytan is a small business owner and real estate agent in southwest Denver. She’s also mother to two sons, one of whom is a DPS graduate and a second currently attending elementary school. Both Sochi and her husband, Jaime Estrada, are products of a DPS education themselves, having both graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in the 1990s. Sochi earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Metropolitan State University of Denver and serves as President of the Harvey Park Improvement Association.

Key quote: “Excessive, ineffective and expensive standardized testing is damaging our children. Teachers spend nearly a third of their year preparing, administering and reviewing multiple standardized tests. The board should be a catalyst for modeling respect and partnership with our teachers. Let’s make teachers our partners!”