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There are three seats up for election on the seven-member Colorado State Board of Education. One candidate from each party is running in Congressional District 3 and Congressional District 7, while only Congressional District 1 will hold a primary election on the Democratic side.

As the governing body for the Colorado Department of Education, the board accredits public school districts, regulates educator licensing and sets policies that govern pre-kindergarten through 12th grade education in the state. Incumbent board member Valentina “Val” Flores failed to make the primary ballot, leaving two candidates in the race. Republican Sydnnia Wulff is unopposed. 

The candidates in the Congressional District 1 Democratic primary are:

Lisa Escárcega is the executive director for the Colorado Association of School Executives and the former accountability and research officer for Aurora Public Schools. She has a master’s degree in school psychology and a doctorate degree in quantitative research methods. Escárcega also taught English at Regis University. Her platform includes repealing the grading system for individual schools; working with the legislature to create an incentive program for hiring teachers of color; and establishing a committee for the board, legislature and local school districts to collaborate on education policy. Escárcega does not support putting public schools under private control. Her endorsements include the Colorado Education Association, the Colorado AFL-CIO, the Denver Classroom Teachers Association and at-large Denver school board member Tay Anderson.

Donna Morganstern worked for the state Department of Education ensuring compliance with federal law and for Douglas County School District as a data analyst. She has a doctorate degree in social and environmental psychology and taught at Metropolitan State College of Denver early in her career. Morganstern promises to evaluate policies that come before the board, including appeals of charter school denials, through an “equity lens.” She also will examine accountability measures like standardized testing to improve their validity, reduce the time that they take away from learning, and ensure the results are used appropriately. Her endorsements include former state education commissioner Robert Hammond and Sam Mamet, the former longtime executive director of the Colorado Municipal League.

This story has been updated with the name of the institution where Morganstern taught.

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