Karla Esser is the right pick for State Board of Education in Congressional District 7.

Esser, a Democrat from Lakewood, has an incredible background in education. She taught in public schools in Germany for years, served as an assistant superintendent in rural Colorado and most recently was a teacher of teachers at Regis University where she was the director of graduate programs for licensed teachers before she retired.
Now she is ready to serve on Colorado’s Board of Education to help direct the future of the state’s schools.

“If you’re an assistant superintendent or a principal you spend hours watching the state Board of Education and if you’re at Regis in teacher education you spend hours watching the state Board of Education and I feel very strongly that people on the board should understand what decisions will mean for the field,” Esser said.

In other words, she is ready to hit the ground running on day one with an understanding of what the board does and what it needs to do.
Esser’s opponent in the race, Republican Nancy Pallozzi, has a different kind of education experience, which is also incredibly valuable. She’s a parent. But learning the workings of the board would take Pallozzi more time.

Esser’s top priority is to not only advocate for more funding for Colorado’s public schools but to push for more equitable funding across the state, doing away with a school finance act that is leaving some school districts on the losing end of state funding.

And she is certainly not wrong that Colorado’s standardized testing regime has too many tests and is taking too much time.

“I’ve seen districts spend more time and more money on testing than I would have ever thought possible and I don’t think we are getting a return on that investment,” Esser said.
We agree. She wants to look at the possibility of moving tests to every other year or drastically reducing them. And she said tests are needed to track student progress, but she would rather rely on the assessments that schools and teachers already are implementing on their own on top of the state assessments.
We do urge Esser to reconsider her opposition to accountability measures called for in state law. One of the most important roles of the state Board of Education is using its powers to demand reform and change at some of the state’s chronically underperforming schools. This is an important role. Esser raises good questions about the efficacy of some of those reforms – there is a mixed legacy of improvement at these schools.

But that mixed legacy is far better than just doing nothing.

Colorado must continue to track school performance. We like that it’s now based on a growth model that takes into account where a student begins and how much progress they make in a year, rather than just a raw achievement score.

But Esser is a dedicated educator who will serve this state well on the Board even if we don’t agree with her on every issue.

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