Rodríguez is our choice for superintendent of Roaring Fork School District
Any day now, the Roaring Fork School District Board of Education is expected to make a decision about which of the three finalists will be picked to lead the district moving forward.
Hiring a superintendent is one of the most important decisions that any elected school board can make. And the stakes could not be higher for the Roaring Fork Valley. Touted as one of the most forward-thinking school districts in the region, this single action will show our true colors and place our values on display for the whole state to see who we are as a community and what we really believe. I hope the needs of children ultimately inform the decision.
This is why Voces Unidas Action Fund, as an independent 501(c)(4) nonprofit advocacy organization, spent the time and energy to vet the three finalists once they were announced. We fought to get public records from various government entities. We researched the backgrounds of each candidate and their public stances and opinions on the issues that we care about. We called their current and past communities to solicit candid feedback from parent and community groups that we trusted to get a better sense of their leadership styles and their commitment to parental involvement, equity, and other issues. In short, we did our homework so we could advocate for ourselves. This is what we do.
There is no doubt that all three candidates have impressive credentials. However, one stood out to us as being a better fit for our school district and our valley -- Dr. Jesús Rodríguez.
Dr. Rodríguez, a son of Mexican immigrants, knows how a high-quality public education can put students on track for a better life. Born and raised in Colorado, he is currently the deputy chief academic officer of content in the Dallas Independent School District, the 16th largest urban school district in the U.S.
His post-secondary experience started in community college before he enrolled at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley and earned a bachelor’s degree in teaching. Dr. Rodríguez started his professional career teaching in an elementary classroom in a transitional bilingual education program before earning a master’s degree in Educational Equity and Cultural Diversity from the University of Colorado-Boulder. As an administrator at Trevista at Horace Mann, he helped transform a state-designated “turnaround” school into a high-quality option for all families. During that time, he also decided to pursue his Ph.D. from the University of Denver in Educational and Leadership and Policy Studies.
Dr. Rodríguez recent work demonstrates an ability to successfully lead organizations and to help guide and coach other administrators and school leaders. When it comes to student achievement, he strikes us as having the characteristics -- and the track record -- to be a superintendent who will look out for all students — from those who are gifted and talented to English-language learners and other students who are often left behind.
Having previously worked in Denver Public Schools like outgoing Superintendent Rob Stein, we think parents should be confident in Dr. Rodríguez’ ability to continue building on the successful foundation that Dr. Stein has put in place. Like Dr. Stein, Dr. Rodríguez would arrive without prior experience as a sitting superintendent, but with a track record of success at every level that should leave no doubt as to his ability to do the job.
Dr. Rodríguez' history of learning and working in Colorado — in communities that look similar to the Roaring Fork Valley in terms of the demographic makeup of the student populations — will be a benefit to our schools. He impressed us with his understanding that our next superintendent must not just be culturally responsive, but community responsive. His record is one of bringing all communities and stakeholders to the table in order to build diverse coalitions.
I want to thank the more than 90 leaders who sent a total of 445 e-mails to the five school board members. For many of these local parents, community leaders, graduates of the district and taxpayers, this was their first time engaging at this level with their school district.
The final decision is up to the school board and the school board alone. We are glad to see that our district was able to attract the attention of candidates like Dr. Rodríguez, an inspirational leader who will undoubtedly lead school districts and do many great things for children wherever he serves. And should he be offered the job, we hope he takes it. We need a visionary like Dr. Rodríguez to help create more opportunities for all students.
Regardless of the board’s final decision, I want to thank you for your support in this work. We are modeling what creating community power means for us -- and while that may make some people uncomfortable -- it is important and necessary in order to meet our goal of having representation that is reflective of, supportive of, and effective for our community.
Alex Sánchez is the President and CEO of Voces Unidas Action Fund and a graduate of Basalt High School.
About Voces Unidas Action Fund
Voces Unidas Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit advocacy organization that engages in direct advocacy, including making endorsements of candidates for public and elected office. We are invested in the future of the Roaring Fork School District because it currently serves almost 60% Latino students. Voces Unidas de las Montañas is a different organization. While affiliated, both organizations act independent of each other.