TUESDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2005
Brad Stine | Dangerous, clean and coming to Denver
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The Cherry Creek School District, faced with achievement gaps between white and minority students, is getting teachers to address hot-button issues.
Iraqi At race’s starting line vote spurs probe Totals “unusually high” in 12 provinces The results of Saturday’s referendum on the constitution could be called into question if anything suspicious is found. By Dexter Filkins and Robert Worth The New York Times
“COURAGEOUS CONVERSATIONS” KICKING OFF By Karen Rouse | Denver Post Staff Writer Aurora
or two Thursdays each month, a dozen Cherry Creek School District teachers gather in a fourth-grade classroom at Highline Community School and confront one of society’s greatest fears. They meet to talk about race. They are a mix of teachers-in-training and those who have recently switched careers. They sit behind metal desks arranged in a semicircle and talk about “white privilege” and black students with low self-esteem.
Cherry Creek schools growing more diverse The district has seen its minority population nearly double in the past decade, from 16 percent in 1995 to 31 percent in 2004.
Cherry Creek School District 2003-04 enrollment: 45,847
Source: Cherry Creek School District Jonathan Moreno | The Denver Post
Ex-wife’s kin livid as Florida releases stalker
American Indian or Alaskan Native
Asian or Pacific Islander
They share personal experiences — about openly racist relatives and having been trailed in stores by clerks who expected them to steal. One black teacher confesses a reluctance to speak her true thoughts, for fear of being called “paranoid.” School psychologist Kinette Richards shares that “as a black woman in America, what I have to say about race will not be what people want to hear.” With these tentative remarks, the teachers are having what has come to be known as the “courageous conversation.” They are in the first month of a year of meetings led by fellow teacher David Gonzales aimed at changing the culture in the district’s schools. It is delicate, emotional and painfully awkward. But a candid discussion about race is also a vital first step to close the achievement gap between white and minority students, Superintendent Monte Moses says. On average, white and Asian students outperform black and Latino students in the district by 30 percentage points among those who scored at least proficient on Colorado Student Assessment Program tests, said Elliott Asp, an assistant superintendent. When the scores are adjusted to account for risk factors such as poverty, high mobility and poor English skills, a gap still exists, he said.
Nine-year-olds Derantae Cunningham, left, and Jacqueline Lopez read at Highline Community School. The fourth-grade class is taught by David Gonzales, a participant in “Excellence and Equity” in the Cherry Creek School District. The program addresses the achievement gap between white and minority students and looks for solutions. Brian Brainerd The Denver Post
> See RACE on 6A
Tribes fight ski area over sacred site
By Howard Pankratz
By Electa Draper
Denver Post Staff Writer
Denver Post Staff Writer
Florida authorities’ release of a stalker who once said he would kill his former wife, bury her in the desert and wear her teeth as a necklace has outraged the family of the ex-wife and the Colorado district attorney whose office prosecuted him. James Denman, 35, was released by a Florida judge on a $5,000 bond on Aug. 18 in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he is facing charges stemming from a 1999 incident involving his former wife, Nicole, and Nicole’s sister Cathie Freise. “He’s a very, very dangerous man,” said Bonnie Roesink, the district attorney for Colorado’s 14th Judicial District. “I understand why (the family) is so afraid of him. I think it is a very scary situation.”
Prescott, Ariz. — Four Corners tribes say they are fighting for their spiritual lives as they sue to stop a ski area on the San Francisco Peaks from spraying what they consider sacred mountains with snow made from reclaimed wastewater. The Arizona Snowbowl and the U.S. Forest Service, which has approved the ski area’s plans, argue that if the American Indians’ religious claims prevail, it could lead to more than 550 tribes nationwide dictating how federal agencies manage millions of acres of public lands, from the Grand Canyon to Mount Rushmore. Navajo Nation attorney Howard Shanker called the tribes’ lawsuit a test of the strength of the Religious
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Airstrike: The U.S. launches attacks against insurgents in Ramadi, killing 70 people, according to the military. Iraqi police say some civilians died. > Story, 8A
Miers denies discussing views on Roe A teleconference in which two of her friends reportedly said she would vote to overturn the abortion ruling stirs questions.
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Leslie Andrews, a Denverite of Navajo and Hopi descent
Tom Hood Special to The Denver Post
> See IRAQ on 8A
By Steven Thomma and James Kuhnhenn
“It is important for all native people to stand together on this issue.”
American Indians and non-Indians protest last week outside the federal courthouse in Prescott, Ariz., against the planned expansion of the Arizona Snowbowl and its proposed use of treated wastewater for snowmaking.
Baghdad, Iraq — Iraqi election officials said Monday that they were investigating “unusually high” vote totals in 12 Shiite and Kurdish provinces, where as many as 99 percent of the voters were reported to have cast ballots in favor of Iraq’s new constitution, raising the possibility that the results of Saturday’s referendum could be called into question. In a statement released Monday evening, the Independent Election Commission of Iraq said the results of Saturday’s referendum would have to be delayed “a few days” because the apparently high number of yes votes required that election workers “recheck, compare and audit” the results. The statement made no mention of the possibility of fraud but said results were being re-examined to comply with internationally accepted standards. Election officials say that under those standards, voting procedures should be re-examined any time a candidate or a ballot question receives more
Washington — Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers assured a Senate Democrat on Monday that she has never told anyone how she would rule on abortion rights. “Nobody knows how I would rule on Roe vs. Wade,” Miers said, according to Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Still, Schumer and Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., the panel chairman, said Monday that they want to know more about a private teleconference call in which two of Miers’ friends reportedly assured religious conservatives that she would > See MIERS on 6A
New Nugget investigated
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The Denver Nuggets’ No. 1 draft pick this year, Julius Hodge, has been accused of attempted sexual assault. Hodge’s attorney says the allegation is “completely false.” > Story, 1D
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Tuesday, October 18, 2005
FROM THE FRONT
Top court refuses to bar abortion sought by inmate
RACE: District tackling issues
By Charles Lane The Washington Post
< CONTINUED FROM 1A
“What it says is there is a racial factor that we need to look at,” Asp said. In Cherry Creek Schools, a district known as white and wealthy, the minority population has nearly doubled since 1995 — from 16 percent to 31 percent during the 2003-04 school year. Of the district’s 3,443 teachers, only 259 are not white, district data show. The growth in minority students has been concentrated in the district’s northern area, said Brooke Gregory, former director of the district’s multicultural office. Five years ago, the district interviewed black and Latino students and families in the northern area and learned that many felt they were held to a lower standard based on their race, said Gregory, now assistant principal at Cherokee Trail High School. The district recognized it needed outside help. Led by Moses, the district hired the California-based Pacific Education Group to launch “Excellence and Equity,” a training program in which educators examine the tie between race and student achievement. So far, the district has invested more than $275,000 in the program. It went districtwide this year. Until now, what has been missing from the discussion on the achievement gap is “a dialogue on the impact of race,” said Glenn E. Singleton, executive director of Pacific Education. “It’s not even acknowledged. We’re not even grappling with the idea that race could be a factor.” Singleton said many white educators struggle with what he calls a “culture of whiteness,” the characteristics whites share, from their appearance to their way of speaking and their mannerisms. “They’re unable to recognize that they too bring a culture of race to the school,” Singleton said. For some children of color, “the behaviors the teachers normalize in the classroom may not be normal,” he said. Moses said it’s difficult to refute “the argument that the dominant way of doing everything in our schools is around white children.” However, he said, the training is not about blaming teachers. “This training helps us realize that without meaning to do so, it’s very easy to have different expectations for students of different races, just as society has groomed us to,” Moses said. So far, about 1,000 teachers and administrators have been through the training, and some, such as Gonzales, also learned to lead discussions. An additional 2,000 are scheduled this year for training, which begins with “courageous conversations” and continues with sessions on how to develop teaching strategies that appeal to all students. Teachers learn, for example, that black and Latino students are more engaged when taught collectively, while white and Asian students are more competitive and individualistic, Singleton said. Cherry Creek officials say it’s still too early to track results, but at the Oak Grove School District in California, similar training has produced results, said Manny Barbara, superintendent
Brian Brainerd The Denver Post
David Gonzales, a fourth-grade teacher at Highline Community School, praises his students as they leave class. He has encouraged teachers to discuss the impact of race in their lives.
Achievement gap evident in recent CSAP scores Across the Cherry Creek School District, the gap between black and Latino students, and their white and Asian classmates, averages about 30 percentage points. Although poverty, poor English skills and high mobility are factors, the district is looking at whether racial attitudes also play a part. CHERRY CREEK SCHOOL DISTRICT
American Indian Asian Black Hispanic White
61.1% 79.0% 52.7% 53.6% 81.8%
NA* 86.0% 52.6% 56.8% 83.4%
52.9% 75.1% 44.0% 42.2% 76.3%
68.4% 70.2% 49.1% 53.6% 82.4%
25.0% 65.6% 36.9% 36.4% 70.6%
NA* 53.8% 13.3% 16.8% 44.6%
52.0% 69.0% 46.0% 41.0% 76.0%
49.0% 75.0% 43.0% 42.0% 74.0%
45.0% 68.0% 42.0% 37.0% 71.0%
50.0% 68.0% 44.0% 38.0% 77.0%
37.0% 59.0% 30.0% 26.0% 63.0%
16.0% 42.0% 9.0% 9.0% 37.0%
American Indian Asian Black Hispanic White
*Group too small to report data. The state did not provide numbers for categories with fewer than 16 students. Source: Colorado Department of Education
of the San Jose-based district. The district, which serves 11,600 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, has been working with Pacific Education for at least eight years. About 42 percent of its students are Latino, while 28 percent are white, 19 percent are Asian and 6 percent are black. Five years ago, no minorities were enrolled in eighth-grade geometry. Today, out of 77 students enrolled, six are black and eight are Latino. “That might not sound like much, but eight (Latinos) is more than we had five years ago,” said Barbara. “We looked at how we were placing kids.” In Cherry Creek, the “Excellence and Equity” program hasn’t had total buy-in. Teachers have walked out of sessions in tears. Some have felt they were being called racist. Alvin Poussaint, a professor of
The Denver Post
psychology at Harvard Medical School and author of several books on African-American culture, said such training can be beneficial if teachers “pick up on things they are blind to,” but it may not not be effective if teachers are resistant. What’s most important is for teachers to “have high expectations for all of their students,” he said, “not setting a standard that’s a white suburban standard.” At Highline Community School, David Gonzales paces the aisles, talking to his diverse mix of fourth-graders about a book they have just read. “Let’s think about one character from the book,” he says, then adds an idea he learned from training: “Relate that character to a family member or a neighbor.” With more family references used in his questions, his lowest-performing Latino students improved by 14 percent in their
reading assignments, he said. During the first “courageous conversation” held with new teachers this month, Gonzales invites teachers to discuss the impact of race in their lives and how racial attitudes might relate to the achievement gap. Journalist-turned-teacher Bill O’Brien says that if he treats his minority students differently, it’s because he’s trying to encourage them. After the meeting, O’Brien says the discussion felt uncomfortable at first. “I was trying to be more measured. There's a feeling of not wanting to offend,” he admits. As more people spoke up, he felt more at ease. “It’s a difficult topic to discuss,” he says. Staff writer Karen Rouse can be reached at 303-820-1684 or email@example.com.
Washington — Issuing its first abortion-related decision under new Chief Justice John Roberts, the Supreme Court refused Monday to stop a prison inmate from getting an abortion at an outside clinic. The court’s two-sentence order capped five tense days of litigation in which the woman, now 16 weeks pregnant, battled a new Missouri policy forbidding prisons to assist women seeking to terminate their pregnancies, as corrections officials had done in seven previous cases the last eight years. Late Friday night, Justice Clarence Thomas, who handles emergency applications from the judicial circuit that includes Missouri, had intervened at the state’s request to stop the transfer of the prisoner, who is referred to in the lawsuit as Jane Roe, to a Planned Parenthood office in St. Louis on Saturday. Over the weekend, however, Thomas referred the case to the eight other justices, resulting in the decision announced Monday. The order came unaccompanied by a published opinion or recorded dissent, so there is no way to tell how many justices, if any, might have voted against the order. Nor is there any way to know why Thomas agreed to a temporary stay after two lower courts had denied one, or what legal arguments ultimately prevailed. Still, the order does suggest that, under Roberts, a majority of the court was not inclined to rush into a new abortion battle, even when implored to do so by a state where the anti-abortion movement is particularly strong.
In other action, the Supreme Court on Monday: B Refused to allow the federal government to pursue a $280 billion penalty against tobacco companies on claims they misled the public about the dangers of smoking. B Said death-row inmates do not automatically have a right to a jury trial to determine whether they are mentally retarded.
The order put renewed attention on the court and abortion cases just as the Senate plans confirmation hearings on White House counsel Harriet Miers, whom President Bush has nominated to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. O’Connor has been the swing voter on key abortion decisions in recent years. Missouri had asked Thomas to give “heavy consideration” to its policy of “discourag(ing) abortions and encourag(ing) childbirth.” But the state had to show that that it would face “irreparable harm” if it had to transport the woman. The state said that it would lose the $350 cost of a day’s prison guard salaries, as well as run the risk of an escape or injury to the prisoner, public or guards. The federal district judge who initially ordered Roe transported for an abortion, Dean Whipple, has said that his ruling only covered the Missouri policy as it applied to her, and that he will hear arguments and decide the constitutionality of the policy generally later this fall. That case eventually could land in the Supreme Court.
MIERS: Nominee denies tipping her hand on Roe < CONTINUED FROM 1A
vote to overturn the 1973 case that legalized abortion. Schumer said it was possible that the Judiciary Committee would subpoena participants in the call. The key issue: Whether the White House engineered a clandestine campaign to assure social conservatives that Miers would oppose abortion, while publicly insisting that it had no abortion litmus test in picking Miers. Specter said committee staffers are investigating. “If there was a telephone call where someone gave assurances about how she’s going to vote in a case, you bet that’s something we’d look into,” Specter said. Early Monday evening, Specter, a moderate Republican who supports abortion rights, said that during a nearly two-hour private meeting, Miers told him that she believed the court had properly decided a precedent-setting 1965 privacy case. That case, Griswold vs. Connecticut, established the legal foundation that led to Roe vs. Wade. But after Specter’s comments made news, Miers called him to say she had not taken a position on that landmark case. Specter’s office issued a statement saying he “accepts Ms. Miers’ statement that he misunderstood what she said.” Monday’s skirmishing over the teleconference call was set off by Wall Street Journal opin-
ion columnist John Fund. He described a call among 13 members of “the Arlington Group,” which he described as “an umbrella alliance of 60 religious conservative groups,” on Oct. 3, the day President Bush nominated Miers. During the call, James Dobson, founder of the Colorado Springs evangelical group Focus on the Family, introduced two friends of Miers’ to speak about her, according to Fund. White House political guru Karl Rove “suggested that we talk with these gentlemen because they can confirm specific reasons why Harriet Miers might be a better candidate than some of us think,” Dobson said, according to notes cited by Fund as taken during the call by one participant. One participant asked whether the men thought Miers would vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade. “Absolutely,” said U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade of Texas. “I agree with that,” said Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht, a longtime Miers companion, according to Fund. The call came one day after Rove spoke at length with Dobson about Miers, assuring the influential conservative that Miers was acceptable. Miers told Schumer that she had never discussed Roe vs. Wade with Kinkeade or Hecht, Schumer said, but she refused to say whether she had ever discussed the issue with Rove.
STALKER: Mom of terrorized woman doubts police keeping tabs on man < CONTINUED FROM 1A
An assistant state attorney in Florida who worked on the case said Denman met the conditions for a $5,000 bond but that he, at least, was not aware of Colorado’s desire to track Denman’s whereabouts. Denman had completed his fouryear stalking sentence in Colorado but was under intensive supervision beginning June 21. He wore a monitor that tracked his every move, according to parole official Jim Fitzpatrick, a supervisor in the Westminster parole office. That monitor came off, however, when Denman was extradited to
Florida. Nevertheless, Jeff Geist, supervisor of the Colorado Interstate Compact Unit, charged with monitoring out-of-state offenders, said Monday that authorities “know where he is and are keeping tabs on him.” He would not say how often Denman must check in, although he said he believes Denman can’t leave Florida. But Richard Ripplinger, the assistant state attorney for Pinellas County, Fla. , who is new to the case, said that as far as he knows, Denman is free to travel anywhere. Ripplinger said the judge probably set the bond according to a bond schedule based
on the seriousness of the Florida charges. Cathy Richards, Nicole’s mother, said Monday that she has no confidence that authorities know where Denman is and that Nicole is in hiding. “The main thing she is worried about is his kidnapping the kids,” Richards said. Denman was initially arrested in Colorado on April 11, 2001, after he showed up in Grand Lake behind Richards’ home. In his rented SUV, authorities found a rifle, ammunition, duct tape, a machete, pepper spray, handcuffs, a BB pistol and binoculars.
His former wife had fled to Grand Lake after Denman broke into her apartment in Boise, Idaho, wrote accusatory messages on a door, smashed numerous items and smeared mustard around the apartment, court records show. She told authorities that the abuse had gone on for years. Denman was convicted of stalking in Colorado and sentenced to six years, although that was later reduced to four. Denman appealed his stalking conviction to the Colorado Supreme Court after the Colorado Court of Appeals upheld it. On Monday, the state high court refused
Denman’s appeal. According to Florida investigators, Denman kicked and punched Freise in the presence of Nicole before Denman pulled a gun, put it to Freise’s head and said he was going to kill her. He was charged with one count of aggravated assault with a firearm and two misdemeanor battery counts. Denman has denied that he threatened Freise and said that his threat to kill Nicole was “dark humor.” Staff writer Howard Pankratz can be reached at 303-820-1939 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Denman has said he would kill his exwife and make a necklace out of her teeth.