Frequently Asked Questions

Q Why are you running for re-election?

 

I am a career teacher with 33 years' experience in DPS. The School Board benefits from a career teacher's voice. I lead with teacher values: my love for students.

I am positive about DPS's future and continually look for ways to strengthen our schools, solve complex problems, and improve the experiences of our students, their families, and all our employees.

Q What are your top priorities as a school board member?

 

Equity for all DPS students; ensuring that all our schools have what they need to best serve our students; fully-funded and fully-resourced neighborhood schools; community-driven decisions across DPS; engaging people in finding solutions to district problems and basing our decisions on our school board's constituents' ideas and opinions.

I believe that all DPS schools strive to serve all students whether they are neighborhood, choice, charter, or innovation schools. I also believe that our community, staff, and school board should work with the people closest to our students – school employees – to decide whether the wide range of DPS learning opportunities serves all our students.

We must be able to clearly identify what students know and are able to do and what families want for their children. This will help everyone in DPS decide if the menu of learning opportunities is sufficient for the future.

Q What will you do about the inequitable treatment of students of color in our district?

 

We have begun to address this systemic problem through the School Board's Black Excellence Resolution; Know Justice, Know Peace Resolution (KJKP); and the Equity Experience Modules. But this is not enough.

 

I understand how difficult it is to teach a curriculum that does not reflect our students' languages and cultures. I will continue to advocate for making sure students are leaders in their own learning and that we hear and act on their ideas and opinions. I stand behind the KJKP Resolution's directives because they come from our students.

 

I will continue to work on DPS's commitment to curriculum revisions and resources that will change teachers' instruction in terms of competency and cultural responsiveness. I support our goal of renewing and revising civics, economics, U.S. history, and grades K-5 social studies curricula. I will ensure that we follow through on the professional development for K-12 literacy and social studies teachers needed to implement revised curricula.

Q What will you do to help stop the turnover of BIPOC teachers in DPS?

 

We know that when students of color are taught by teachers of color, they have have better academic performance and higher graduation rates and are more likely to go to college. My fellow board members and I will learn from what BIPOC educators tell us about why they are leaving DPS. We know that BIPOC educators report isolation, retaliation, and too few mentors as reasons why they leave the district.

 

I will work to increase and support DPS "Belong" groups, knowing that employees from underrepresented backgrounds bring their perspectives to their work. I support DPS in starting high school mentoring programs to encourage students to consider teaching as a career pathway. I will work to expand our Pathways to Teacher program, encouraging BIPOC non-licensed employees to become teachers.

Q What changes are needed in Colorado's school accountability laws and DPS standardized testing policy?

 

I worked with the Reimagine SPF Task Force which was instrumental in ending the DPS School Performance Framework. The group recommended that we have a continuous learning and improvement model to gauge schools' performance. This is an excellent suggestion and will help us know what teachers know about students' performance.

 

I will guide the board to continue working with teachers to create an accountability system that gives students and their families the information they need AND provides teachers and their schools with the information they need to know what they are doing well and what needs improvement.

 

While we have made progress in this area, we are not where we can say we have an accountability system that provides the information everyone needs. This is a priority for me on the school board.

Q What is your position on innovation schools and innovation zones?

 

I voted no on a recent school board vote to expand Innovation Zones (Sept 2020, Apr 2021). I want us to look at our current process for innovation approvals and monitoring. We need to know how innovation schools affect other schools' budgets and operations; what their staffing patterns are; whether their communities are represented on their zone boards; and more.

 

I taught at an innovation school, West Leadership Academy. I know how much promise there is in innovation status; I know there are innovation school staffs providing an excellent education for our students. I do not, however, believe that opting out of the DCTA-DPS collective bargaining agreement should be a choice.

I want to learn from teachers in innovation schools why there is teacher turnover in their schools. Do they have the supports and resources they need? Do they have time to plan and reflect on their instruction? What can the district do to increase retention? Then we can use this information to inform the school board's decisions.

Q What is your position on charter schools?

 

I do not believe the board should approve any more charter schools. We should be doing more to ensure that our neighborhood schools have the resources they need to meet all students' needs. I think the district's push for charter schools has deepened the racial and economic divide in DPS.

 

Most important to me is whether every school in our district is accountable to students, families, and the public. Charter schools are not directly accountable to the district and not held to the same standards as other DPS schools. It is also not possible for the school board and DPS to monitor charter schools because they are run by independent boards not affiliated with DPS.

Q How can we make sure we know what students have to say about DPS and their education?

 

Students' voices are critical to improving our schools. I have served as the school board liaison to the Student Voice & Leadership Executive Team and value what students say they want in school. The Student Bill of Rights is another tool that can help the board. It outlines what our students' vision is for DPS, seeking our commitment in seven categories: Culture and Diversity; Equity; Accountability; Student Voice; Due Process; Curriculum; and Health..

I pledge to continue to work with students across DPS to hear what they want in our schools and to work with student groups to meet their needs and expectations.

Q Colorado does not have a stable system of adequate, sustainable PreK-12 public education. What role can the DPS School Board play in changing this?

 

We are way behind nearly every state in school funding, teacher salaries, and other financial markers for success in the 21st century. I believe our board and administration should advocate at the Legislature for state budget changes that will help DPS, Colorado's largest school district with more than 90,000 students. I would also like our board to direct the superintendent to provide more school nurses, social workers, psychologists, and counselors to our schools and to prioritize reducing class sizes.

 

I do think we have made progress in our financial transparency by creating a Budget Advisory Committee; we are the only Metro Denver district to do this. Another step in creating more financial transparency is the Financial Transparency Website. We encourage community members to engage in conversations about the district's finances and I think this has served us well. I think it would be useful to have more regular updates and more opportunities for citizens to learn about the district's budgeting process, ask questions, and become more knowledgeable.

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(303) 910-4963       carrie@carrieaolson.com

Paid for by Dr. Carrie Olson for Denver School Board Registered Agent Carol March

(303) 910-4963       carrie@carrieaolson.com

Paid for by Dr. Carrie Olson for Denver School Board Registered Agent Carol March