At last week’s Board meeting, I asked Superintendent Marrero if he would modify his recommendations to close ten schools. He said, “no.”

Yesterday, however, he announced that he has, in fact, modified his original recommendation and now seeks Board approval to close five schools rather than ten.

What was clear to me last week — and now appears clear to the Superintendent — is that he did not have the four Board votes needed to close ten schools. In fact, a majority of Board members expressed alarm at the recommendations presented to us last week, as they were developed without engagement and empowerment of the impacted school communities. The Superintendent’s new recommendation does nothing to address this root problem.

I have visited all ten schools that were originally identified and have shared with each community that I will not vote for any plan that closes their schools unless they tell me directly that they actually want to close or consolidate.

To date, not a single principal, Collaborative School Committee, School Leadership Team, or parent-teacher organization from one of these schools has told me that they support consolidation or closure of their school.

I will thus continue to be a “no” vote on all recommendations.

The Denver School Board has made numerous governance changes over the last two years, and End Statement 1.1 in our policies now states: “DPS will be a district that is free of oppressive systems and structures rooted in racism and one which centers students and team members with a focus on racial and educational equity, enabling students to ultimately become conscientious global citizens and collaborative leaders.”

As I have stated before, this process has forced people of color to fight for scraps, and that is a tactic of white supremacy culture — and thus incompatible with the Board’s End Statement and expectations of the Superintendent.

Regardless of the number of schools now under consideration, I will not support this current recommendation, as our communities were not engaged, much less empowered. Everyone should still speak at Public Comment because, mark my words: depending on how things play out for the five schools that remain on the proverbial chopping block, the other schools are likely to be reconsidered at a later point, as early as the spring.

Many of us gathered at Brother Jeff’s Cultural Center earlier this week, and I appreciated so much the community-building I saw taking shape across families, students, and staff from all of the schools represented in that room. Please, continue to stand with each other.

This is a time for Denver Public Schools to unite and in one voice, say “KEEP OUR SCHOOLS OPEN!” I will continue to be on the front lines with each of you, regardless of what the Board of Education decides on November 17th.

As Assata Shakur reminds us:

“It is our duty to fight for our freedom.

It is our duty to win.

We must love each other and support each other.

We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

In Solidarity,

Denver School Board Vice President — Auon’tai Anderson



The Honorable Auon’tai M. Anderson

The Honorable Auon'tai M. Anderson, is a former Denver School Board Member and CEO of the Center for Advancing Black Excellence in Education.