My name is Radhika Nath and I am running for Denver Public Schools’ Board of Education because every child deserves high-quality education and the opportunity to succeed. I came to this country as an immigrant drawn to its excellent higher educational institutions. I earned my doctorate in public administration & policy and I have worked in the area of health policy ever since. In 2011, I became a citizen and gained the right to vote. I became active in grassroots politics as a precinct committee person and as a volunteer in local and state electoral initiatives.
I completed my Emerge training in 2015. I decided to run in 2019 because of my journey as a parent, having encountered what is a dysfunctional school system in Denver Public Schools. When I entered our neighborhood school for the first time with my son, I was shocked to see how under-resourced and over-crowded our schools were, despite my having approved bonds and mill levy overrides for the school district over the years. There were classes of 30 young children being managed by one stressed, young teacher. Public education is a common good and it is the basis of our democracy. Without well-functioning schools providing a high-quality education to all of our children, our democracy is weakened and our economic and social fabric will fray, as indeed we see across the nation. I am a disability rights advocate and this is our next frontier of inclusion. Our measure, as a nation, can be ascertained by how we treat those who are vulnerable amongst us. When we build equity and justice, we all benefit as a society. As MLK, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Folks can be dismissive of school board races as they may see them as being less important than other municipal, state and federal positions. Throughout this campaign, I have endeavored to draw attention to why this position is important and how it can play a huge role in strengthening our democracy. What I hope to accomplish in this position is a reversal of some of the most corrosive trends in public education that we have seen in the past decade and more. School funding has declined while at the same time childhood poverty has increased. Reliance on testing, shrinking curricular focus, large class sizes, parental fundraising, alternative teacher programs, public monies being managed by private entities, law enforcement in schools, criminalization of children, online learning and charter schools, have all contributed to a school system in crisis. Public schools are the proverbial canary in the coal mine. We neglect them at our own peril.
Running for office has been an intense experience. I have learned so much about the process, and about myself. I am running against two opponents both of whom are heavily funded for an unpaid, volunteer position. My campaign has been grassroots and I have refused to take any special interest or corporate PAC dollars. By running a values-based campaign, I got some very key local endorsements and the campaign grew organically through much support from everyday people. I also became one of only three candidates across the country to receive an endorsement from a national organization- Our Revolution National Political Committee. Progressive change is needed and possible. It takes each one of us stepping up to do what we can.