November 24, 2015

Bennet No-Shows For Clinton At School He Shut Down

Hillary Clinton surrogate – and rumored V.P. contender – Sen. Michael Bennet was a no-show at two Clinton events in Colorado today, including one at a Denver high school he has a long and controversial history with.

Clinton held a grassroots organizing event at Manual High School in Denver, which Bennet approved shutting down under controversial circumstances while serving as Superintendent of Denver Public Schools before being elected to the senate. The New Yorker reported in 2007:

To Bennet, who aspired to public office, running an urban school district seemed more likely to end a political career than to launch it. Most of the children in the district were poor, and eighty per cent were minorities, including a huge number of Latino immigrants…

…In February, as a warning to the dozens of other schools in the district that were failing to properly educate poor and minority children—and with little warning to students and neighborhood residents—the board moved, with Bennet’s approval, to shut down Manual at the end of the semester. It was an admission, Bennet said, of a school district’s absolute failure.

While the school eventually reopened, Bennet faced heavy backlash, including accusations of “racism,” from the local community. The Denver Post reported:

In an emotional display of fury and distrust, students, community advocates and a number of prominent African-American ministers beseeched board members at a packed public hearing to keep Manual open.

One called the decision to shutter it for a year racist. Another told board members that what they were doing was abusive to children. A third called the district a “dictatorship.”

Bennet has been keeping his distance from Clinton, despite endorsing her and serving on her state leadership committee, since recent polling showed that she is even more unpopular in the state than he is, but skipping this particular event is likely to both inflame the Democratic base and serve as a reminder of his disastrous tenure as Superintendent.