Candidate well-versed in challenges

CU regent wants to serve with Douglas County Schools

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James Geddes is no stranger to controversy. The District B candidate for the Douglas County School Board is a University of Colorado Regent who is pushing for change among the university’s staff and in the definition of discrimination.

He believes the changes he seeks are coming, but said: “It’s been against some significant resistance.”

The surgeon and Sedalia resident sees a lack of intellectual diversity among college professors, and hopes to help enact change. He also wants to ensure individuals’ expressions of political and philosophical beliefs are protected. Geddes introduced a pair of resolutions designed to address those issues in June.

Geddes, who describes himself as “a pretty strong conservative,” said a preponderance of liberal professors doesn’t provide students with a well-rounded education.

“Most of our universities across the country have become very leftist and the faculty is standing right together on a point of orientation,” he said. “We’re not providing the best possible educational environment for our kids, and that needs to change.

“We need to actively bring in high-quality academics who are proponents of the other side of some of these issues. Students then are well equipped to choose where they stand on these issues. I quite frankly think the same thing should be occurring in our high schools and junior highs to a certain degree.”

If elected to the school board, Geddes said he would encourage a similar philosophy.

“I think it has to occur as an initiative of the actual faculty,” he said. “For me to step in and say we’re going to line up all the teachers in high school, figure out where they’re standing politically and start sorting them into piles and reorganizing them — that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about an ethic we all need to share.”

The Joplin, Mo., native grew up in Denver, and has a bachelor’s degree from CU and a medical degree from the University of Colorado-Denver School of Medicine. He is an emergency trauma and emergency general thoracic surgeon in the Denver area.

A father of four, Geddes’ two youngest children attend Cherry Hills Christian School; his oldest two are adults.

Geddes is a Douglas County Republicans-endorsed candidate who supports the district’s current pay-for-performance plan and voucher program.

“I’m hoping that’ll go through the court system and come back to us,” he said of the voucher program. “Then we can fully implement it.”

Measuring teacher success is not an easy task, he said.

“I don’t think the last chapter’s been written on how that’s done,” he said. “But in concept, if a teacher’s doing a great job and creating eager learners … that teacher needs to be recognized, rewarded and retained.”

Geddes said he would keep constituents foremost in his mind when making decisions on the board.

“First, we should consider what’s best for our students, and best for our citizens,” he said. “Also, of course, we have to be responsible to the employees of the district. We want them to be happy.”

Geddes does not plan to seek another term on the CU Board of Regents. Elected to the board in 2008 to serve the 6th Congressional District, his current term expires in January 2015.

As a DCSD board member, he said, “I will be applying the conservative principles of limited government, individual freedom and individual responsibility that goes with freedom.”