Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., the former Denver schools superintendent, is joining the crowded Democratic campaign for the White House.
Bennet, who announced his decision onlast week, has a long record on K-12 policy. As Denver schools chief, he negotiated changes to the district’s ProComp pay-for-performance plan, working with the teacher’s union, and started the city’s color-coded rating system for schools. Those reforms may not have quite the shine they once did: Denver teachers went on strike earlier this year, in part because of issues with ProComp.
In 2009, President Barack Obama seriously considered making Bennet his first education secretary. The job went instead to Arne Duncan, who at the time was the Chicago schools chief. Then-Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter appointed Bennet to his Senate seat when then-Sen. Ken Salazar became Secretary of the Interior.
As a senator, Bennet quickly joined the education committee. During development of the Every Student Succeeds Act, Bennet he helped champion the Education Innovation and Research program, which helps districts and states scale up and test out promising practices. And he helped author a new ESSA pilot program that allows districts to try out a “weighted student funding formula” in which money is tied directly to individual students. In the pilot, vulnerable groups—like English-learners—carry with them more money than others.
A version of this article appeared in the May 08, 2019 edition of Education Week as Former Denver Schools Superintendent Michael Bennet Runs for President