Opinion: Aurora community neglects education as education Board neglects morals

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Feature Photo Provided By: The Colorado Statesman– Though he was asked to resign from his position on the APS Board of Education, Eric Nelson is still serving as a director. It was discovered that Nelson had falsified parts of his military resume.

By Alivia Lee, Review Staff

I’ll give you a dollar if you can name a member of the Aurora Board of Education. Now, if you have complained about Aurora schools, you owe me five dollars. The majority of Aurorans who either have students attending an Aurora Public School or are just in the area have an opinion on both the school and the board — and it’s oftentimes a negative opinion — but if these people actually began to pay attention to all of the important decisions the school board makes for Aurora’s kids, then these frivolous choices and mistakes would not fall through the cracks.

Compared to other school districts in Colorado, Aurora Public Schools (APS) is often shoved into a negative light – critiqued for the poor performing schools and high levels of disciplinary measures; however, the whole Aurora community has practically remained silent in regards to the latest disturbance in the APS Board of Education — board member Eric Nelson’s falsified military resume. If the community does not even pay attention to what the board is doing or who is on it, how can they really blame the board for all of the problems in the district?

It has recently come to light that Nelson, Director of the Aurora Public School Board of Education, had exaggerated and even lied on parts of his resume, including his military background, according to several reports. Nelson has been on the board since 2013, but it wasn’t until he began running for a state representative position that his falsified background was discovered. Many have called for Nelson to resign — and that would be the right move — but an even larger issue at hand is why it takes a school board member to run for a higher office before he gets the public scrutiny that all board members should be receiving.

It is disappointing enough that a man who claims he is so keen on seeing kids have a successful future has lied so easily about his past; it is even more shocking that this went completely unnoticed by the Board and the voters of Aurora. This whole situation makes me and many students wonder: “are background checks really still a thing?” I guess not. But students are learning important lessons from this leader, like:

  • If you’re well known and popular your past really does not matter.
  • If you hold a position of power, you are basically excused from any accountability.
  • The APS Board does not even care about who is on it, as long as appearances are kept up all common sense is thrown out the window.

Multiple efforts to contact several Board members, including Nelson, were made for this column — no response was returned. Clearly those contacted — including Nelson supporter Barbara Yamrick — do not have time to reach out to students.

Since the truth of Nelson’s background came to light, the community has practically remained silent. The state, and even the Aurora community, are constantly down-talking APS, but what have they offered besides their complaints?

These lies completely slipped through the hands of both the Aurora Board of Education and the Aurora community. If the board had simply conducted a thorough background check on Nelson, like they should for anyone running for a board position, then this would not even be a problem. While it should be the board’s job to prevent these type of scandals from happening, it seems as though no one in the Aurora community cared enough about student education to want to know about the people making decisions about education.

Both Nelson and the board are at fault here but so is this community. It really does not seem that people in Aurora care enough about Aurora education. It seems as though the majority of people living here do not even know the name “Eric Nelson” and probably would not even care that a liar is serving on their children’s board of education. Aurora parents and community members let this whole scandal slide on by; to date, Nelson is still serving on the Board. If more outside pressure was put on Nelson, he perhaps would decide to resign.

It should be the community’s job to get more involved in student education, not just in Cherry Creek, but in APS, too. On the first and third Tuesday of every month the APS Board holds meetings at six pm at the PLCC (15771 E 1st Ave, Aurora, CO 80011); meetings are open to the public. These meetings are an easy way for just regular community members to get involved. If there was more community involvement and participation in education, then less of these scandals and problems would slip through the cracks and continue to affect students in Aurora.