the next four years

Trump says he’ll ‘work something out’ for Dreamers, adding to uncertainty for undocumented teachers

PHOTO: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post

Among the people with acute concerns about what a Donald Trump presidency will mean for them are the hundreds of teachers working across the country who are not documented citizens.

Those teachers, who came to the country illegally as children, secured the right to work legally through the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. Trump vowed to do away with the policy as part of a broader push to crack down on immigration, leaving them fearful about their jobs and their ability to stay in the U.S. after living here for most of their lives.

Now, Trump has offered the first sign of hope for them, telling Time magazine that he would “work something out” for the people in their position, known as Dreamers after the so-far-failed DREAM Act legislation that would give them a path toward citizenship.

“We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud,” Trump told Time. “They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen.”

It’s impossible to know whether Trump plans to follow through on that promise when he takes office next year and gets to work.

The Teach For America official responsible for recruiting and supporting undocumented teachers, Viridiana Carrizales, said she was “always welcoming” developments that could bode well for the organization’s 146-member “DACAmented” corps. But she said Trump’s apparent change of heart comes with a cost.

“It’s exhausting,” she said. “When you hear that everything could change, to softening, to there could be a solution, to me that’s someone gambling with my life and my future, and emotionally it is so difficult.”

She also said Teach For America would continue to lobby for a DREAM Act, a more permanent solution to the challenges faced by young adults brought to the country illegally as children. That legislation has achieved some bipartisan support, but not enough to become law.

For now, she said, her most pressing concern is helping undocumented teachers and their students, no matter which policies win out under a Trump presidency.

“If it’s a good thing it will happen when it happens, and if it’s a bad thing it will happen when it happens,” she said. “We have to be prepared for anything.”

Carlos Ruiz, a Teach For America teacher in Colorado through the DACA program, said he would continue to tell his own story and is trying to remain optimistic.

“That’s the mentality I’ve reverted to: Hope for the best,” he told Chalkbeat. “Keep on staying level-headed for myself and for my students. And continue to speak about it in an educated way because I sincerely believe that when people hear our stories, they will be supportive and change will come.”

state of the union

Challengers claim victories in Denver teachers union elections, race for president heading for recount

Henry Roman, president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association

A slate of progressive, social justice-oriented candidates won a majority of seats up for grabs in the Denver teachers union election, and the race for president is headed for a recount, according to results released to union members Friday.

Denver Classroom Teachers Association president Henry Roman edged challenger Tommie Shimrock, the leader of the slate, 906 to 857, according to an email from the union obtained by Chalkbeat.

The margin is within the 3 percent threshold for an automatic recount, which will be held after Denver Public Schools returns from spring break April 3, the email said.

Christina Medina, a northwest Denver elementary school teacher, defeated incumbent vice president Lynne Valencia-Hernández, 922 to 809.

In all, members of the progressive slate — part of a new caucus within the union — took four of the seven seats in play. Along with the top two posts, the elections were for board of director seats representing southwest, northwest and northeast Denver.

Union representatives and the candidates did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

While mixed, the results are a boost for members of the caucus, who view their efforts as part of a national movement to reinvigorate teachers unions, many of which have experienced flat or declining membership.

Roman, Valencia-Hernández and their allies ran on a platform that the union has been making progress in better engaging members, challenging Denver Public Schools in court and turning out large numbers for contract bargaining.

Shimrock, Medina and their peers portrayed the status quo as ineffective in battling a “corporatist” district agenda, unsuccessful in influencing school board elections and inadequate in addressing broader social justice issues facing the community.

Here are the full results, according to the union email. Members of the progressive slate are designated with an “s.”

PRESIDENT

Henry Roman: 906
Tommie Shimrock (s): 857

VICE PRESIDENT

Christina Medina (s): 922
Lynne Valencia-Hernandez: 809

SW BOARD OF DIRECTORS (one opening)
Jocelyn Palomino: 192
Marguerite Finnegan (s): 174
Janell Martinez: 66

NW BOARD OF DIRECTORS (three openings)

Hipolito (Polo) Garcia (s): 246
Kris Bethscheider: 177
Kate Tynan-Ridgeway (s): 170
Brianna Myers: 152
Terrilyn Hagerty: 135

NE BOARD OF DIRECTORS (one opening)

Tiffany Choi (s): 271
Bill Weisberger: 203

2018

Salazar won’t run in governor’s race featuring strong education storylines

PHOTO: Denver Post File
Former U.S. Senator and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Ken Salazar’s decision not to run for Colorado governor takes one prominent Democrat out of a still-developing campaign that promises to prominently feature public education as an issue.

The former U.S. senator and interior secretary cited family reasons for his decision to sit out the 2018 Democratic primary. Salazar, who is closely involved in raising a granddaughter who has autism, could have been a voice on public education for children with disabilities.

In a Denver Post commentary explaining why isn’t running, Salazar took a broad view of the challenges in education.

“Colorado’s education crisis needs to be solved from pre-kindergarten to college,” Salazar wrote. “It is sad that Colorado has defunded higher education and abandoned the great tradition of leading the nation with our great colleges and universities.”

Salazar’s announcement could set other plans in motion quickly in the Democratic field.

Former state Sen. Michael Johnston, a prominent education reformer, and entrepreneur Noel Ginsburg, CEO of Intertech Plastics, have already announced they are running.

U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Arvada told the Denver Post on Thursday the “chances are very good” he will run, and could declare his candidacy soon.

Former state treasurer Cary Kennedy said she is seriously considering running, and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder said he has not ruled it out, according to the Post.

Among the Republicans mulling a run: District Attorney George Brauchler, state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and state Treasurer Walker Stapleton.