This week, Doug Benevento, a six year veteran of the Douglas County School Board and strategic visionary in the area of public education reform, submitted his resignation. The loss of this voice on the board of education in one of the most important counties in our state cannot be overstated. On a board of education that, for years, was packed with strong believers in school choice and a student-centric education system, Benevento stood out as a leader, visionary, and a guy in politics with the background and drive to actually get big things done.
Benevento was first elected to the Board of Education in 2009, and wasted no time in putting his legal and business background to work. In doing so, he shifted the power base in government education from a union-entrenched bureaucracy to a model based on opportunity and choice for parents and families.
Whether it was pay for performance, vouchers, the expansion of public school charters, or school choice, Benevento was on point for all of these innovative reforms. With the current dismal state of public education in this country, the idea of taking on just one of these reforms would be a massive undertaking, but Benevento and his colleagues were undeterred.
On top of all of the policy accomplishments that Benevento has to his credit, he proved to be a talented and committed campaigner – better than many politicians in our state who hold full-time, paid elected positions. Twice Benevento went toe-to-toe with the unions, and was the last man standing. He took big hits, many below the belt, fought back and won.
With more than $1 million lined up against him when he ran for re-election in 2013, he stood tall, stuck to his beliefs, and took his case directly to Douglas County voters, who rewarded him with another term in office, and the mandate to continue the innovation and progress that his talents brought to one of the largest school districts in the state.
A true public servant with smarts, guts, and a strategic vision that never got derailed, Benevento will be a difficult one to replace on the school board in Douglas County.