Denver teachers union finalizes school board election endorsements: Lindsay, Baldermann, Spearman

The outside of a school.
North High School is in the Denver school board’s District 5. Incumbent Charmaine Lindsay is running against two challengers: Marlene De La Rosa and Adam Slutzker. (Melanie Asmar / Chalkbeat)

With five weeks to go before Election Day, the Denver Classroom Teachers Association made its final endorsement Wednesday in the Denver school board race by backing incumbent Charmaine Lindsay for the District 5 seat representing northwest Denver.

Lindsay, a family law attorney with grandchildren in Denver Public Schools, was appointed by the board last year to fill a vacancy in District 5. After initially saying she wouldn’t run for election to keep the seat, Lindsay said she changed her mind because she feels there’s more work to do.

Endorsements are key to winning school board races in Denver because they come with financial support for the candidates. While a recent national study found that teachers union endorsements are most influential in school board races, endorsements from organizations that back education reform and charter schools tend to come with more money.

Denver Families Action, the political arm of a relatively new organization formed with the backing of several local charter school networks, has endorsed longtime DPS volunteer and advocate Marlene De La Rosa for the District 5 seat. De La Rosa is a recently retired U.S. immigration court specialist whose two children graduated from DPS.

In endorsing De La Rosa, Denver Families Action noted she is a leader in the Latino community who “is committed to closing the achievement gap and ensuring that every student, regardless of their background, has access to the resources and opportunities they need to succeed.”

Three of the seven seats on the Denver school board are up for grabs Nov. 7. All seven members of the current board have received union support. With just three seats open, the election won’t change that overall balance of power.

In endorsing Lindsay, the teachers union called her a “deep and thoughtful thinker” who “understands that we must work together to ensure that all students, regardless of their race, background or zip code have equitable access to the support they need to thrive.”

“Charmaine Lindsay has consistently demonstrated her commitment to listening to educators and the DPS community to make informed decisions that enhance school safety in Denver Public Schools,” union President Rob Gould said in a press release.

Lindsay was one of four board members who voted in June to return police officers to DPS schools on a permanent basis following a shooting inside East High School in March.

The teachers union endorsements have come later than usual this year. Gould told Chalkbeat earlier this week that the union wanted to take its time because some of the candidates it endorsed in previous years did not live up to their campaign promises.

In addition to endorsing Lindsay for the District 5 seat, the teachers union has endorsed incumbent Scott Baldermann for the District 1 seat representing southeast Denver and Kwame Spearman, a DPS graduate and co-owner of the Tattered Cover bookstores, for an at-large seat.

Denver Families Action endorsed former KIPP Colorado charter school network CEO Kimberlee Sia for the District 1 seat and former East High principal John Youngquist for the at-large seat.

Melanie Asmar is a senior reporter for Chalkbeat Colorado, covering Denver Public Schools. Contact Melanie at masmar@chalkbeat.org.

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