In an effort to highlight the impact that school board races have on students, three groups sponsored a candidate forum for the District 2 school board race.
Either Angela Cobian or Xochitl “Sochi” Gaytan will be the school board candidate to represent southwest Denver. Students from local area schools were able to pose questions and concerns directly to the candidates.
The event was sponsored by Padres & Jóvenes Unidos, Inspire Colorado, and Young Aspiring Americans for Social and Political Activism and held at KIPP Denver Collegiate High School.
Padres & Jóvenes Unidos pointed to the importance of student involvement, “This forum represents an opportunity for the students of Southwest Denver to directly engage with the candidates who will represent them in the future and raise the issues they see as most critical to their education.”
The two candidates shared similar views integral to the implementation of what the candidates said was much needed transformation for providing equal educational opportunities for all.
Gaytan was an undocumented student in Denver Public Schools (DPS) whose children have been in the DPS system. She pointed to three issues most significant to her:
1. Support for teachers because she has received reports of teachers lacking support and respect.
2. An external audit on the $1 billion budget to make sure that funds are going directly into the classroom.
3. Ensuring protections for public education and preventing the closing of public schools.
Gaytan identified the third, preventing school closures as her number one priority. She pointed to her own experience living in a neighborhood that underwent school closure, and said the move resulted in a “damaged neighborhood.”
Cobian, a former teacher and organizer with Together Colorado, told the audience that she has spent her life fighting for an excellent education, “When I was a kindergarten student my teacher refused to teach me. My mother didn’t have recourse.”
In the interior of her wrist, she wears her grandmother’s name, Maria Nicomedez Cordoba Perez. While acknowledging both of her grandmothers’ illiteracy, she honored their sacrifices for coming to the US by becoming the first in her family to go to college.
“I look forward to discussing my vision and the evolution of Denver Public Schools, one in which our students grow with the City and County of Denver and aren’t displaced by it. I firmly believe that the students in this room and the students in this area have the potential to not only take advantage of the growth but be creators.”