Susana Cordova, expected to be the next superintendent of Denver Public Schools, spoke to parents, students, and staff Tuesday night on December 11th at George Washington High School. This is a big decision as DPS consists of 92,000 students.
DPS was under a search for a new superintendent in August. Even with 122 candidates, insiders say that Cordova was always top of the list. Cordova is a former DPS teacher, principal, and is now the current DPS Deputy Superintendent. Cordova speaks, “I think one of the advantages that I have, as having grown up inside DPS, is I have a real perspective and opinion on the things that we do well and — frankly — the things that we don’t do well.” This will likely help as she already has a lot of experience about how DPS runs, and how it should run in order to make it a more productive school system. Cordova has spent her entire career in DPS, and was just 8-years old when she was a student in the district.
Cordova was also questioned on many different issues. When the topic of how she will work to narrow the opportunity gap among minority students was asked, according to the FOX news website, she responded, “Susana Cordova says that will be a priority for her. She told FOX31 she wants to create a more equitable school system designed to help all students succeed, regardless of their cultural or socioeconomic backgrounds.”
At the forum last week, “Cordova talked about how she believes training on bias and culturally responsive teaching should be mandatory for all teachers instead of allowing some to opt out.”
Many board members believe Cordova will help DPS grow for the better and hope she exemplifies her DPS experience and passion as the new superintendent. Board member, Happy Haynes says, “We all knew Susana as a deep listener. But to watch her in the community sessions, listening to each person regardless of what their concern was and whether they agreed with her or not — she listened deeply. And that’s an extraordinary attribute for a leader.”
With the teachers strike rumor growing and growing into a reality, Cordova will be tested with keeping DPS under control in the midst of the crisis. Cordova says they will make significant budget cuts to support teachers salaries, “We are cutting seven million dollars out of the central office to put into teacher compensation. Seven million dollars is a lot, that’s a lot of people’s jobs. Where was that money going before? It’s in support positions. There’s been a lot of criticism that DPS is too large, too top heavy. We will make significant cuts.” (FOX 31 News) This would increase salaries by 10 percent, however, that may not be enough to prevent the strike. Cordova also said that DPS will do everything in their power to keep schools open, and will utilize their substitute teachers. However, with the strike, schools around DPS may be in chaos if the strike does happen and there is not enough teachers to cover the classes. The newly appointed superintendent is being tested early, and it will be interesting to see what ends up happening, in both GW and DPS.