Scott Esserman hopes his background as an educator and involved father of two DPS students, along with high profile endorsements from The Denver Classroom Teachers Association (teachers’ union), and elected officials like Colorado Attorney Phil Weiser will persuade voters to elect him.
Esserman chaired DPS’ District Accountability Committee and served on collaborative school committees at his children’s schools. He works part-time on the Anti-Defamation League’s “Words to Actions” program designed to curb anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias through school programs. He taught for 12 years in Cherry Creek schools and one year at Northfield in DPS, and at St. Mary’s private Catholic school, which, “as a good Jewish boy, was an interesting experience,” he said.
A proponent of masks in schools, Esserman said thinks the district is doing a “reasonably good job.” Concerned with the staff shortages ranging from teachers to bus drivers, he would like to see “some sort of analysis of the workforce to see if the qualified people are even out there to fill the positions.” He notes that the district has offered bonuses to new hires, at times irking existing employees who are also asking for more money.
More concrete solutions from the board would help both the staffing shortages and public trust, he believes. “Parents are hungry for a message that they want to hear what candidates are for…people are tired of the bickering.”
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. “It’s pretty clear that just given the fact that a modified consent decree exists, that the district hasn’t fulfilled their obligation.” Noting several programs he believes have not been well implemented, he says the District needs to do a better job of understanding the wants of families with ELL students. Some, he said, have pushed for full immersion while others have wanted transitional language instruction. He wants to do a “deep dive” into the needs of the community before setting policy.
All candidates were also asked whether they would have voted to censure Director Anderson. “I don’t know,” Esserman replied. “The board is privy to information I don’t have.” He said the conversation has “lost focus on the students.” If he was on the board he would have asked himself: “How is my vote going to impact students?”. He added that if the District wants to talk about restorative justice, they need to model that practice.
Anderson has been publicly supporting Esserman and attacking other candidates on social media, though Esserman stops short of calling it an official endorsement, noting that Anderson is not listed on his website with other elected officials and said Anderson does not have an official role in his campaign.
As of October 5th, the most recent filing, Esserman leads the pack, having raised $53,932 with his largest donations coming from the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, who have given him $22,000. His endorsements also include Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca, State Board of Education Director Lisa Escárcega, The Colorado Working Families Party, and several state legislators.
You can read more about him at www.esserman4denverkids.com