Nicky Yollick hopes his background in education activism and a broad community coalition will entice voters to choose him as the next at-large school board member. Yollick is the founder of several community organizations focused on equity in schools, has been a persistent voice in the Democratic party for more support of neighborhood schools, and explains he’s spending much of his campaign going directly door to door to ask voters what they think of DPS. He said he’s hearing frustration from a number of sides. “Some people say the board hasn’t flipped enough…there’s a lack of coordination and long term plans…and the adult drama — it’s never about kids.” Yollick said despite his political affiliations, he’s campaigning to every voter regardless of party affiliation and has also had interesting conversations with Republican and other conservative voters about issues such as critical race theory in the schools, even though they disagree.
Yollick, a longtime supporter of neighborhood schools, said it is easy to generalize too much between binary opposites in education. “Thousands of families love their charters,” he explained. Yollick stressed his focus is on community input and transparency. His concern is not school choice, but how some charters are used to create hyper competitive relationships between schools rather than spending time and resources on students’ education.
His focus on community collaboration has led him to advocate for creation of regional plans in the city, frustrated that DPS has, in his view, been “one size fits all districts for decades.” He believes that local plans, focused on several neighborhoods at once, further goals of creating more equity, draw in more parents, and create what he refers to as “community-based plans — not corporate-based plans.”
All candidates were asked about the consent decree regarding English Language Learners, a ruling that said DPS needs to provide additional education time to tens of thousands of struggling students. DPS has repeatedly failed to meet the requirements. Yollick said, “DPS needs to be better at allocating our resources” to meet federal mandates regarding English Language Learners. He believes that the district can meet the requirement to help students by simplifying some administrative processes, reducing the amount of money spent on school marketing, and otherwise reallocating more funds to classroom instruction.
All candidates were also asked whether they would have voted to censure Director Anderson. Yollick said that like the Board, he was relieved to read in the report that the most severe allegations against Director Anderson were unsubstantiated, but that the “DPS board had no choice but to take some action” based on the other findings of impropriety. He would have voted to censure Anderson for what he referred to as “conduct unbecoming of a board member.”
In his interview, Yollick highlighted recent endorsements from the Sierra Club, the Denver chapter of Progressive Democrats of America, and a number of endorsements from teachers as well as education activists. While not backed by the union or ed reform groups who are usually the largest donors, Yollick said his support from approximately 200 local donors has kept him competitive. His largest contributions, totalling over $12,000, have come from family members. As of October 5th, the most recent filing, he has raised $45,344
You can read more about him at www.nickyfordenverkids.com