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Wednesday Churn: Sponsoring Ravitch

What’s churning:

Several entities listed as sponsoring a Feb. 17 talk by education historian and author Diane Ravitch said they’re withdrawing their support after learning her talk will benefit a political group.

Promotional materials for the event, titled “An Evening with Diane Ravitch,” list the University of Colorado at Denver as a host and groups including the University of Northern Colorado, Community College of Denver and Metro State as sponsors.

CU-Denver had agreed to pay $500 for the venue, the Tivoli Student Union, but is now declining that support and has asked its name be removed from invites for the talk, said spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery.

“We didn’t even know our name was being used until this came to our attention,” said CCD spokeswoman Rhonda Bentz. “We have asked that it be removed.”

Fox 31 political reporter Eli Stokols, who is listed as the event’s moderator, said he also is withdrawing after learning the proceeds will benefit Friends of Education, a recently incorporated 527 political group.

“I, as an objective journalist, cannot participate in a political fundraiser of any sort,” Stokols said.

Henry Roman, president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association and one of the event organizers, said the talk will go on. Ravitch is already planning to be in Denver to speak at the American Association of School Administrators national conference.

Friends of Education registered as a 527 political organization on Jan. 28 and as a political action committee on Feb. 4, according to state records. Its purpose, according to the PAC filing, is to support school district candidates.

While some remaining groups supporting the Ravitch event are also involved in the attempted recall of Denver school board president Nate Easley, Friends of Education spokesman Nicolas Weiser said the group is not funding that effort.

“We’re not funding anything right now,” Weiser said. “We are going to be engaged with discussions around education in Denver.”

Denver school board member Jeanne Kaplan, one of the event organizers, said they will remove sponsors’ names at their request.

“Some people are trying to turn this event from a very important dialogue about education reform … into a political football,” she said. “Why are people afraid to talk about reform that works?”

What’s on tap:

Charter school cases and reports dominate the State Board of Education’s monthly agenda today and Thursday.

This morning the board will be briefed on a new report about rural district needs and challenges, the work to date of the State Council on Educator Effectiveness and the results of the new average daily membership study (see story on that).

During the afternoon the board will hear and decide an appeal of the Thompson school district’s denial of a charter for the Loveland Classical Schools and later will be updated on pending education legislation.

On Thursday the board will discuss a pending innovation application from the Kit Carson schools, get updated on the commissioner search and then consider legal arguments over whether it has jurisdiction of a zoning dispute involving Prospect Ridge Academy in the Adams 12-Five Star district. Links to agenda items

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