election 2015

Pro-reform group spends big on 2015 campaign

A Raising Colorado mailer supporting northwest Denver school board candidate Lisa Flores (Chalkbeat Colorado)

A committee affiliated with Democrats for Education Reform has spent nearly $90,000 on campaign materials for two Denver school board candidates.

The group, Raising Colorado, spent $87,667 with two East Coast advertising agencies to produce campaign materials, according to campaign finance records filed late this week.

Jen Walmer, registered agent for the committee and state director of DFER, detailed the spending this way:

  • $14,277 was paid to Greenlight Media of New York to produce and send a mailer for board candidate Lisa Flores in   northwest Denver’s District 5.
  • $51,685 was paid to Three Point Media of Washington, D.C., for support of Flores. Another $21,705 was spent on digital ads supporting candidate Anne Rowe in southeast Denver’s district 1.

Raising Colorado also spent $397 with High Line Communications of Littleton to provide web design support for Flores, Rowe and board president Allegra “Happy” Haynes, Walmer said.

All the money raised by the group this year — $250,000 – has come from New York-based Education Reform Advocacy, a DFER-related political group that manages contributions raised by local groups and redistributes it to those groups.

The amount spent by Raising Colorado lags the nearly $95,000 donated to three other candidates by two teachers union groups. (See this story for details on DPS campaign donations, and use our database to find contributors to individual candidates.)

The money spent by Raising Colorado also is less than the combined total of about $114,000 raised by Flores and Rowe for their own campaign committees.

Raising Colorado is classified in state law as an independent expenditure committee, which it means it can’t donate directly to candidates, other committees or political parties. Independent committees also are prohibited from coordinating their efforts with candidates’ campaigns. Independent committees may raise and spend unlimited amounts of money. All ads, flyers and other materials must include a “paid for by” disclosure listing the committee’s name.

The two union committees involved in the DPS board races, the DCTA Fund and the Public Education Committee, are classified as small donor committees, which are allowed to contribute directly to candidates but don’t have to disclose their donors. Such committees typically are funded by dues deductions from members.

The Raising Colorado report, filed Thursday, details activity between July 1 and Sept. 30. The group spent a total of $89,669, including small miscellaneous amounts spent in addition to the money spent with the ad agencies. The committee is sitting on an unspent war chest of $161,972.

Asked how that balance will be spent, Walmer said, “It’s not just in Denver” but declined to be more specific.

“I don’t know yet,” she said.

Since Raising Colorado first registered with the secretary of state in June 2014, it has raised $765,020 and spent $603,047 in various races over the last two election cycles.

The group spent more then $200,000 to back one successful and one losing Democratic candidate in November 2014 State Board of Education races. Raising Colorado also spent money to oppose GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez and supported some Democratic legislative candidates. The group also spent more than $47,000 supporting another unsuccessful Democratic state board candidate during the primary election earlier in 2014.

Two other DFER-related committees also are registered in Colorado.

The Democrats for Education Reform Political Committee reported income of $2,047 and spending of $461. Of that, $400 was contributed to Dan Jorgensen, a candidate for the Aurora school board.

The Democrats for Education Reform Small Donor Committee reported income of $1,101 and spending of $213. No contributions were given to candidates.

The BSSC Independent Expenditure Committee, which is affiliated with Stand for Children, has been active in past elections but not so far this year. The committee reported income of $1,196 and no spending in a report filed this week. Over the past four election cycles BSSC has raised $282,550 and spent $281,353.


¿Cuantos niños en su escuela son inmunizados?

Monserrat Cholico, 8, en la Crawford Kids Clinic en Aurora en 2015 (Denver Post).

Chalkbeat recolectó datos para ayudar a los padres a entender si las escuelas de sus hijos están protegidos de enfermedades. Busque su escuela en nuestra base de datos.

“Immunization rate” representa el porcentaje de estudiantes que están totalmente inmunizados.

“Exemption rate” representa el porcentaje de estudiantes cuyos padres optaron por no vacunar a sus hijos.

“Compliance rate” representa el porcentaje de estudiantes que están siguiendo la ley de Colorado. La ley dice que los estudiantes deben obtener vacunas o firmar formularios de exención.

Choosing college

State’s college attendance rate shows slight turnaround

PHOTO: Oliver Morrison

The percentage of Colorado high school students enrolling in college right after graduation increased slightly in 2014, according to a new report from the Department of Higher Education.

Of 2014’s 53,771 graduates, 55.8 percent went on to college immediately, up from the 2013 rate but three percentage points below the record in 2009, according to the Report on the Postsecondary Progress and Success of High School Graduates (full copy at bottom of this article).

In the recession year of 2009, when the state started compiling the report, 58.8 percent of high school grads went to college.

“The most recent, 2014, is the first cohort whose enrollment rate increased from the previous year,” the report noted. “Previously, all graduating classes included in this report had a lower enrollment rate than their previous year.”

The report “is good news because so many of the jobs in our technology and information based economy require post-secondary credentials,” said Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, who’s also executive director of the department. “However, the report also reveals that we have continuing and significant gaps in post-secondary outcomes and that students from certain demographic groups are doing much better than others. If we are to meet our education and workforce goals, we must do a better job of supporting low income, rural, and minority students so that they graduate with a credential that will lead to a living wage job.”

Overall college enrollment tends to rise when the economy is weak and drop when times improve. Fall enrollment in 2014 was 251,778, down from the recent high of 284,405 in 2011.

The report details continuing disparities between demographic groups in college attendance and success. Postsecondary enrollment for Latino students is nearly 20 percentage points below white students, and, after their first year of college, African-American students on average earn nearly 10 fewer credits than white students, it said.

“As Colorado’s demographics continue to change and labor markets increasingly demand quality postsecondary credentials, ensuring the state’s future economic prosperity requires that these educational gaps be highlighted and strategically addressed,” the report said.

The report also breaks out college-going rates for individual districts. The district with the highest college attendance rate was Limon, with 84.4 percent of its 32 2014 graduates going on to higher education.

Larger districts in the top 10 included Cheyenne Mountain, Douglas County, Lewis-Palmer and Littleton.

The Plateau Valley district in eastern Mesa County had the lowest rate, 16 percent. Metro-area districts in the bottom 10 included Adams 14, Englewood, Sheridan and Westminster.

Some 76 percent of 2014 grads attended Colorado colleges, and 74 percent of those students attended four-year schools. The most popular schools were Colorado State University and the University of Colorado Boulder. Front Range Community College attracted the largest number of students enrolling in two-year schools.

The annual study examines not only college-going rates but also grade point averages, credits earned, persistence and graduation rates going back to the class of 2009.

Members of the high school class of 2014 who attended Colorado colleges had an average grade point average of 2.78 during their freshman year. Those students completed an average of 30 credits by the end of 2014-15.

Search for your district’s college-going rates here:

And read the Department of Higher Education’s report here: