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Denver Public Schools Superintendent Susana Cordova

Denver Public Schools Superintendent Susana Cordova

Denver’s Susana Cordova named a ‘chief for change’ by national education group

Denver schools Superintendent Susana Cordova was announced Thursday as a new member of a high-profile network of education leaders called Chiefs for Change.

Cordova was already affiliated with the group, having been named a “future chief” in 2017. That program is considered a springboard to push administrators into top jobs. Cordova, who started her career 30 years ago as Denver Public Schools teacher, became superintendent in January.

“Through the ‘future chiefs’ program, I met so many inspiring leaders who are a part of Chiefs for Change,” Cordova said in a statement. “Each one of them is focused on creating schools that serve all children well. I am excited to join this community, share ideas, and spread policies and practices that are having a positive impact in our communities.”

Cordova joins 36 other Chiefs for Change members across the country. Here in Colorado, other members include state Education Commissioner Katy Anthes and the superintendent of the Boulder Valley School District, Rob Anderson.

The organization, which was founded by former Florida governor Jeb Bush but has since taken a bipartisan turn, says all of its members share a commitment to equity, and have worked to expand school choice and establish strong accountability systems, among other initiatives.

Denver Public Schools has a universal school choice system that allows families to use a single application to request to attend both district-run and charter schools. The 93,000-student district also has its own school rating system, as well as a policy that calls for taking swift action when schools are chronically underperforming. All three things are controversial.

Other past and present Denver Public Schools leaders are also part of the group. Cordova’s predecessor, Tom Boabserg, is a Chiefs for Change member. Earlier this month, Allen Smith, a district administrator who oversees equity initiatives, was named a “future chief.”

“As the Chiefs for Change community grows, we continue to see the importance of sustained leadership,” said John White, the Louisiana State Superintendent of Education and chair of the Chiefs for Change board. “Outcomes improve and students win when highly effective leaders build off each other’s progress and strengthen efforts that are already underway.”