Saturday, January 03, 2009

Denver Schools Chief in Line to Complete Senator's Term

Here's today's NYT article about the Bennet pick:

From the start as schools superintendent, Mr. Bennet did not behave like a traditional educator. He liked to ride the bus with students on the first day of class and made it a point to be the public face of the district in public meetings with parents over some of its most wrenching decisions, like school closings. But he also came armed with a weighty Rolodex full of highly placed friends to personally lobby city officials, state legislators and others for what the Denver schools needed.

“Having a fresh set of eyes for the issues D.P.S. faced, but also being able to call the right people and get the right people involved — both were very important to his success,” said the Speaker-elect of the Colorado House of Representatives, Terrance D. Carroll, a Democrat whose district is in Denver.

Under Mr. Bennet, Denver pursued consolidation — closing some underperforming, under-populated schools — and merit-pay incentives for teachers. He overhauled the grading system to provide more information about students’ strengths or weaknesses. Student performance on standardized tests improved. Last July, for example, Denver posted the biggest increases in math and reading proficiency among the state’s largest districts.

And while Mr. Bennet sometimes clashed with the local teachers’ union, the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, its president, Kim Ursetta, said his door was also always open.

“We’ve had our disagreements,” Ms. Ursetta said, “but he was always willing to talk and always accessible.”


Denver Schools Chief in Line to Complete Senator’s Term

Published: January 2, 2009

DENVER — The superintendent of the Denver Public Schools, Michael F. Bennet, a lawyer and prominent Colorado Democrat, will be appointed to fill the United States Senate seat being vacated by Ken Salazar, senior Democratic Party members said Friday.

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