DFER's mission is to encourage a more productive dialogue within the Democratic Party on the need to fundamentally reform American public education. Each month, we identify one candidate who is standing up for meaningful reform and innovation, and we help demonstrate the broad base of support for his or her efforts. Please give as generously as you can.
July 2009: Colorado State Sen. Mike Johnston (SD-33)
State Senator Mike Johnston, an advisory board member of DFER-Colorado, was recently selected for Senate District 33; he will replace Senate President Peter Groff, who is now serving in the Education Department under Secretary Duncan.
Johnston was the principal of the Mapleton Expeditionary School and a senior education advisor to the Obama campaign. He is also a dedicated and passionate educator and a skillful reformer. The Colorado Statesman noted that Johnston turned down an offer to work with Duncan as well, saying, "I became convinced that the most important place to be to have an impact was here. All the money in education — the race to the top fund, for example — was going to the state. And I decided that my primary goal was going to be to stay in Colorado and be part of the work here.”
It's worth noting that, in Johnston's acendency to the State Senate, he was selected not by popular vote but by a Democratic Party vacancy committee. Education reform and innovation are beginning to develop strong political legs in Colorado, even among Party leaders who are sometimes the most hesitant, so it's absolutely crucial that he have the grossroots and financial support to defend his new position.