PUBLISHED on the Rocky Mountain News online blog:
re "Schaffer denies conflict in Denver charter school vote" (Rocky Mountain News, 8/21)
The tempest in a teapot about Bob Schaffer’s vote on a charter school issue demonstrates how desperate Democrats and teachers’ unions are to denigrate him…and how they can find nothing substantive with which to attack him.
Does anybody doubt that Schaffer, a long-time strong supporter of charter schools and competition in education, would generally oppose efforts to kill charter schools? To be clear, the vote in question was not on the charter school contract, but simply to require Denver Public Schools to reconsider their original determination to close the charter school. And if the vote was so questionable, why did it pass, given that Schaffer was just one of 7 votes?
Far more questionable than Schaffer’s vote are the anti-charter school votes of members of the Board of Education who were either members of the DPS Board (such as former DPS President Elaine Berman) or who received campaign contributions from teachers unions and other public school establishment organizations. If any vote seems corrupt, it is those votes.
The Rocky does itself and its readers no favors by letting itself be used by a partisan web site to attack Bob Schaffer instead of doing quality reporting and asking the important questions.
Following is a longer version of this note which I posted on another web site:
The Rocky Mountain News has demonstrated a lazy willingness to let themselves be used by a partisan web site instead of doing their own homework and asking important questions.
So let me make or emphasize a few points that they're too indolent to come up with or highlight themselves:
The vote in question was not on the charter school contract, but simply to send the matter back to Denver Public Schools for reconsideration.
Does anyone think that Schaffer would have voted the other way regardless of his candidacy for the Senate? He has been a tireless supporter of charter schools and competition in education. The idea that he might have voted against a charter school in the absence of damning evidence against the school is preposterous.
The vote was 4-3. If it was so egregious, how did 3 other members (including at least one liberal) vote with Schaffer?
What about the "no" votes from members of the Board of Education who are affiliated with DPS or teachers' unions, including Elaine Berman, former President of DPS? The CEA and the CO Assoc. of School Executives can and do contribute to candidates. How about a newspaper telling us which of the "no" voters get money from the public school establishment which opposes the competition posed by charter schools?
Brennan has been a contributor to Schaffer for at least a few years before this vote. And why shouldn't he be? Brennan is a nationally-known leader in the school choice movement, and spends his own money (in addition to trying to make money, which is no sin) in trying to bring better educational opportunities to those whom public schools fail most. Schaffer also believes that the public school system needs massive reform and the discipline of competition. So, it is not surprising that Brennan has contributed to Schaffer. Indeed it would be surprising if he didn't.
And finally, I would note that all this mudslinging against Schaffer is lightly coated with words like "potential". It's a "potential" conflict of interest. What outrageous behavior by a major newspaper to let a partisan hack feed non-stories to its reporters. A "potential" conflict of interest is a non-story but a useful tool in dirty politics. I understand that politics is frequently dirty, but newspapers should be much more careful not to be so obviously used for partisan attacks.