Denver, Education, Featured, Sherrie Peif, Transparency

Report finds Denver Public Schools using left-wing political litmus test in teacher hiring

DENVER — A newly released report shows that only teacher candidates who bow to a far-left, progressive political ideology are likely to be hired by Denver Public Schools (DPS), based on the rubric used during interviews, and which was obtained by the report’s authors through a Colorado Open Records Act request.

According to the report, put out by The National Opportunity Project (NOP) in August, DPS says that qualified candidates “will have an anti-racist mindset and will work to dismantle systems of oppression and inequity in our community.”

Another sample question used in the interview rubric by DPS included “Do you think the classroom is an appropriate place to discuss race? Culture? If so, what do those discussions look like?”

“We had been hearing complaints from parents across the country saying things in my school are out of whack; they just don’t seem right,” said Daniel Suhr, NOP senior legal fellow during a Tuesday interview on the Mandy Connell radio show on 850 KOA. “So, we did a very basic thing and filed public records requests … and said ‘show us what application materials, what questions you ask, show us what criteria you use when you’re hiring teachers.’”

Suhr pointed out this basic question can be asked by any parent in any school district.

What NOP found out, according to Suhr, was that rather than hiring for excellence, a lot of school districts are prioritizing ideology and politics — including DPS.

NOP requested records from 74 school districts across the United States. Of those, 18 districts either refused or redacted the records. Of the 56 remaining, 23 districts provided records that were flagged for ideological hiring biases.

The only other  Colorado school district that had the records requested was Jefferson County Public Schools. Jeffco provided responsive records but was not among the 23 districts found to be using ideological hiring practices.

Suhr said he never expected the districts that use the hiring practices to be so blatant in their processes.

“I was shocked, quite honestly,” Suhr said. “As a lawyer, this seems not only wrong but illegal. The First Amendment protects all of us in our right to hold our beliefs about politics and about faith, and that the government can’t discriminate against us based on our political beliefs.”

Suhr said there are schoolteachers who should be hired to teach math, science, and other subjects, but instead, if you don’t meet the political litmus test, you are going to be discriminated against.

“Even though it has nothing to do with whether you are going to be a great teacher,” Suhr said.

The DPS Equity Statement reads in part:

“We will achieve equity when we dismantle deeply rooted systems of oppression that have historically resulted in inequitable access and distribution of opportunities and resources for those who represent marginalized identities, including race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, language, and ability.”

Among some of the other material DPS uses in its hiring practices and job postings were statements such as: “Redistribute resources to our most marginalized students, families, and team members,” and “Lead for racial and educational excellence and work to dismantle systems of oppression and inequity in our community.”

“The most sought-after candidates are those who demonstrate a willingness to conform to controversial views on race, identity, and a teacher’s essential role and responsibilities,” the report reads. “There appears to be no room in (DPS) for teachers with views that contradict or demonize this ideology.”

“I never heard anything about students,” Suhr continued. “It was never about education. It was never about improving test scores or improving readiness for the workforce or getting more kids into college. It’s just all this woke ideology that is taking over Denver Public Schools.”

You can find the complete report here. To hear the interview with Suhr on the Mandy Connell Show click here.


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