DENVER — Yesterday on July 17th, Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg announced he would be departing after almost 10 years of leading the district. Here at A+ Colorado we are deeply grateful for Superintendent Boasberg’s service and dedication to Denver’s students. During this time, student performance in the district moved from the bottom quartile across the state to the average, a herculean effort that was the result of his consistent leadership, the hard work of teachers and leaders across the district, and partnership with allies in the community. Through much of his work, Boasberg articulated a groundbreaking belief – that every DPS school, across all governance models and program designs, should support students to thrive, all while being held accountable to the same standards. A belief that is now reverberating in districts across the country. In a world of polarized extremes, particularly in education, Boasberg refused to succumb to a single side, embraced collaboration, and held the center in his pursuit of educational excellence in Denver.
Over the past decade Superintendent Boasberg redefined what big school systems can look like. Under his tenure, DPS launched nationally lauded initiatives: a universal school choice program, teacher leadership, family-teacher home visits, an accountability system, new school governance models, and structures for collaboration across schools. DPS also secured multiple bonds and mills that delivered over a billion dollars for students and schools, regardless of governance type. Superintendent Boasberg often reminded staff and communities of his belief that schools are the unit of change. Under his watch, schools were granted unprecedented flexibility to make decisions about curriculum, finance, and personnel to best serve students in their building. At the same time, the district made enormous central investments in early literacy, producing record gains for emerging multilingual students. As these changes were implemented, academic achievement, high school graduation rates, and college-going all improved significantly under Boasberg’s watch.
Over the next few months, the DPS Board will be tasked with an incredible responsibility. While Denver Public Schools has improved significantly over the last decade, there is still massive work to be done. The district continues to have yawning opportunity gaps, inequitable access to quality schools, and disagreement about the most effective district strategies. Today’s school board will select a superintendent who can set a new course that will accelerate achievement and a joy for learning in all of our schools. To do so requires leadership; it will take a superintendent that will focus on building bridges with all of Denver’s communities to create great schools in every corner of the city. Given the magnitude of recent progress in Denver, and the work that still remains to be done, DPS deserves the best and brightest leaders to be considered for this critical role. If a new leader can build on these accomplishments and address the still unfinished work, then we may finally achieve Mr. Boasberg’s vision that every child succeeds.