Rant & Rave: Doug Lamborn and Denver Public Schools

January 2012

Rant: Representative Doug Lamborn skipped the State of the Union. 

Outside of Colorado, Representative Doug Lamborn is, perhaps, most well known for his "tar baby" remark when talking about being associated with President Barack Obama's policies. At least, that was what he was known for last week. This week, Lamborn popped up in the national media again because the congressman announced he wouldn't attend the State of the Union address on Tuesday night. 

Who announces that they are skipping school in advance? More importantly, why skip the State of the Union? The annual speech before a joint session of Congress—a tradition that dates back nearly a century to Woodrow Wilson (before then it was usually delivered as a report)—is, arguably, one of the most important political moments of the year. In it, the president waxes poetic about what went well and what the next year's agenda will be. Sometimes it is perfunctory. Often, it is contentious. It is always a must-see moment for legislators. 

And Lamborn wasn't there. According to Lamborn's spokeswoman, he believed that Obama was already campaigning and would use the speech to attack his opponents. So he didn't go, even though voters in Colorado sent him to D.C. to represent them. (In contrast, Colorado Senator Mark Udall was advocating for a "Kumbaya" moment. Read our recent Q&A with him here.) How can he represent us when he doesn't even show up?

Rave: Denver Public Schools' on-time graduation rates are up. 

When driving past East High School (pictured) recently, an out-of-town guest asked me if the building was the Capitol. I chuckled, and explained that it was actually a high school. Which led, as it often does, to a longer conversation about Denver's oft-troubled public education system. 5280 weighs in on Denver's school system regularly (see: this, this, and this), so we're well aware of Denver Public Schools' (DPS) struggles. Which makes me pleased when we get to share good news: Last Friday, the Denver Post reported that DPS "posted significant gains in on-time graduation rates." Now, as the article points out, this still leaves DPS below Colorado's average, but we're happy to give DPS an A for effort. Particularly because a high school diploma has such a significant impact on unemployment.