Denver school board members must move forward or move out of the way

I have been thinking back to when I first became aware of and concerned with the DPS Board of Education. I best recall it was while I was still a student in high school and I got the opportunity to meet Rev. Dr. Aaron Gray.

He was a pastor in the community, serving at Scott’s United Methodist Church, and was actively engaged in service to and advocacy for community on the school board. Our churches were in the same neighborhood (North City Park) so we had a lot of interactions. I dare say that he was one of the people that helped to clarify my calling and to shape my passion for great schools in our community. I was intrigued by him because he was doing what I felt called to do. He served on the DPS board 1993-1996.

On the DPS equity site, Dr. Gray remarks of his time on the board, “We were a diverse group of people, coming together around a common purpose.” Diverse people. Coming together. Common purpose. They were dealing with some challenging things too! The end of court-ordered busing, redrawing of school boundary lines, crafting a plan for inclusive decision making, a teachers’ strike, superintendent leadership transitions, and budget and enrollment challenges post-busing.

It wasn’t easier than today; different, but not easier. Required leadership. Required teamwork. Required an unwavering focus on students. That has not changed. Those things are still required. More now than ever as we deal with intentional attempts to sow seeds of division among our community, especially between black and brown.

I have worked with and developed respect and relationships with a number of board members since meeting Dr. Gray in 1993 and consistent among them was not that they agreed on methodology, or that they liked each other and were friends. What was consistent was that they understood the values of leadership and teamwork and the responsibility they had (shared) to focus on students. For the most part, the headlines weren’t about their egos, personality conflicts, or the posturing of their supporters to flex on others.

Our current board must immediately anchor into those principles and practices of leadership, teamwork, and focusing on students. It must immediately embrace their valuable diversity, come together, and center on a common purpose, equity and educational success for our children!

Nothing else matters and frankly, we don’t have time for the continuing adult drama and the “as the school board turns” reality show. If individuals can’t get it together, individuals don’t need to be on our school board, impacting the current and future realities for children, families and staff. Care enough to adult up and move productively forward or to move out of the way.

We have no patience for the continuing circus and as parents and community, we must always be prepared to act to ensure that the best opportunities and outcomes for our children are not delayed or denied because of adult drama. There is too much to be done. Again, care enough to adult up and move productively forward or move out of the way.

Always available to help.

Pastor Vernon Jones Jr.
Pastor Vernon Jones Jr.
Vernon is a former leader in Denver Public Schools at Manual High School, Omar D. Blair Charter, and the Northeast Denver Innovation Zone. He is a father of five children, one in graduate school, two in college, and two still in DPS. He continues to push for a reality that confronts and conquers the racism embedded in the apparatus so that our children can live a reality aligned with their hopes and highest aspirations.

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