Marisol Lynda Rodriguez – State Board of Education, D2


Boulder Weekly sent candidate questionnaires to all state primary candidates. These are their written responses, edited for length and clarity. Find a full list of candidates and questionnaires here.

Office: Colorado State Board of Education, District 2
Campaign website:

Relevant experience 

Parent of two current BVSD students
Education consultant

Lightning round

Yes/no answers only

Would you support later or staggered start times for children of different ages? Yes
Do you think school districts should keep snow day / adverse weather cancellations (rather than switching to remote learning)? Yes, as long as student contact requirements are met/exceeded
Do you think there should be less emphasis on standardized testing? Yes


  • Be a good steward of school improvement dollars. The Department of Education has limited, though impactful, dollars to help schools improve. On the board, I will work to ensure those resources are being spent effectively and leading to change.
  • Make sure students see themselves in their education. The State Board has the final say in approving academic standards, which determine what skills and knowledge we expect students to gain in school and how schools impart that knowledge. On the State Board, I will support rigorous, based-on-fact, and inclusive standards.
  • Improve teaching and learning. The State Board has final approval over changes to teacher licensure and teacher preparation programs. I will ensure that our educators get the training and education they need, based on the science of learning, to improve student outcomes.

What are the top challenges facing the state’s education system today, and how will you address them? 

Our education system’s challenges are significant, but the State Board has limited ability to address them. My answers to the above are meant to address these issues with the limited tools at the State Board’s disposal.

  • Education funding in Colorado is still one of the lowest in the country. Efforts have been made to address this, but voters have not been convinced by recent attempts to increase funding for education. Therefore, we need to be innovative with the resources we have to use them effectively. This aligns with my first priority, being a good steward of school improvement dollars. This is how the State Board can best work to help the schools that need the most help with our limited resources.
  • The political and cultural “wars” are creeping into the classroom. Our schools should be safe places for critical thinking, where teachers can provide a fact-based education, and students feel safe and connected to their schools. The State Board has an important role in combating this creeping politicization by creating the framework for what students need to know through the standard revision process. This aligns with my second priority.
  • Student achievement, the achievement gap and lost learning due to COVID. While I believe most of us want to forget the disruptions of the COVID pandemic, the truth is that our students have not fully recovered. Additionally, our education system has occasionally failed to adequately or correctly prepare educators for the challenges our students face and how the brain acquires new skills. A notable example has been in the way we teach reading which has only recently started to be addressed. This all aligns with my third priority: improving licensure and teacher preparation.

What are the top challenges facing students today, and how will you address them? 

  • Student mental health has been deteriorating noticeably. More students than ever are going through mental health crises. The resources available are inadequate. On the State Board, I will work with CDE staff and stakeholders to identify ways to increase the availability of mental health professionals through modifications to licensing and to identify available resources to improve access where it is needed most. Finally, I will make sure that in my role as a State Board member, I advocate at the legislature to increase the availability of mental health resources for students.
  • The politicization of our schools can leave some students without the safe and welcoming environment they need to do their best. When students are left out of the curriculum, it disconnects them from their education and harms their learning. This contributes to challenges with student preparedness and achievement. We can make a positive impact with thoughtful updates to the Colorado Academic Standards.
  • Too many students are struggling to meet the academic goals we set for them. This is for subjects across the board, including reading and writing, math, science, history, social studies, and more. As mentioned above, this is partially a result of the feelings of disconnection students have from school, the ongoing mental health challenges, and the need to educate students based on the most current brain science and teaching practices. As a State Board member, I will work to improve teacher preparation, licensure, and professional development as recommended by CDE and stakeholders, and I will also promote changes to the education system that better connect students to what comes after school by finding ways to incentivize schools and districts to promote work-based learning and advanced coursework.

How do the needs between suburban/urban and rural school districts differ, and how will you balance your approach and resources in addressing them? 

With the exception of BVSD, most of CD2’s school districts are either rural or suburban, and generally, BVSD has more in common with suburban districts than with more urban districts like Denver. However, across the Congressional District, school districts face similar challenges with the achievement gap, a lack of financial resources, and challenges filling staff positions. In our more rural areas, the difficulties in hiring are more pronounced, and due to lower property values generally, financial resources are more constrained, leading to older buildings and infrastructure. And there are, of course, additional challenges regarding both costs and access to school transportation.

As a State Board of Education member, I will be responsible for traveling the district and seeing firsthand the inadequacies school systems face and the unique strategies they are implementing to address them. In a local control state, my role will be to support policy decisions that help districts address these challenges in the ways that best work for them and help set minimum expectations. Finally, I will work to ensure that the resources overseen by the State Board are managed and deployed to maximize positive student outcomes so that every child can have a bright future.  

What are your plans for meaningfully addressing the achievement gap in schools?

The primary tool at the disposal of the State Board to address the achievement gap is the distribution of school improvement dollars to schools and districts where the achievement gap is most pronounced. As a State Board member, I will advocate for resource equity, that is, that the students with the greatest needs, as reflected by the achievement gap, receive the most resources. This doesn’t only mean money, although that is a part of it, but also working to find ways to incentivize the best teachers, administrators and support staff to work closely with the students who need the most help.

Furthermore, there is evidence that post-COVID shutdowns, student chronic absenteeism is, in part, driving the resurgence of the achievement gap and undermining pre-pandemic progress. It is vital that students miss as few lessons as possible as these skills build on each other. Beyond resource allocation, I will continue to advocate for inclusive standards and pathways to graduation to help students build meaningful educational engagement.  

These approaches can begin to reduce the achievement gap. I am excited to work with educators and CDE to find new and promising practices to improve academic outcomes for all learners.

Do you believe state-level changes are needed to more equitably distribute tax revenue between wealthy and poorer districts? If so, what is your plan to do so? 

Yes, and I was supportive of the legislature’s efforts to rewrite the school finance formula to be more equitable. Now that the legislation has passed, we can return our focus to improving the adequacy of funding.

Beyond this, as mentioned above, I believe the State Board’s primary tool for school improvement is grantmaking, and I will advocate for more resources to go directly to the students who need them the most.

In recent years, the Douglas County School Board has been fined for violating open meetings laws. What responsibility do school boards have to ensure transparency, and what is the State Board’s role in ensuring that responsibility is met? 

This begins with solid education and training in Colorado’s sunshine laws. As a parent and first-time political candidate, I know the important role of supporting our elected leaders. I believe that transparency is critical in our democracy, and when decisions impacting our kids happen behind closed doors, it’s extremely difficult to determine who is accountable. This can undermine public trust and harm parent engagement efforts. 

As a State Board Member, I would like to see more resources offered as support systems for new school district board members. I will also consider district transparency when making decisions around issues like accountability, charter school approval and renewals, and other quasi-judicial matters that come before the board. 

When was the last time you paid rent? How much was it? And where? 

When I first moved to Boulder in 2008, I rented an apartment for a few years. I believe the rent was around $1,200 a month at the time for a one-bedroom off Yarmouth. I was then fortunate to have saved enough money to buy a townhome as a single woman in 2010. 

What efforts do you make in your daily life to consider and understand people with different lived experiences from your own? 

In my work as a facilitator this is something I must do every time I am with a group or in front of a room. I have facilitated groups of people to a consensus consisting of youth environmentalists, oil and gas company representatives, and everything in between. 

In my personal life, my friends and family run the gamut across all political spectrums, life experiences and belief systems. While I believe it’s important to be passionate and have a point of view, I also don’t think that gives anyone the right to disregard and disrespect those I disagree with completely. 

I’ve also seen this firsthand in my experience of parenting. Every child and family is different, but too often, we’re told that there is a right and wrong way to raise a family. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of books and experts devoted to telling parents how to raise their kids and warning them that if they don’t follow that guidance, they’ll ruin their kids’ lives or futures. What I’ve realized is that what worked for my oldest child does not necessarily work for my youngest, and what works for my friends doesn’t necessarily work for me. When I come across parenting styles that are different than my own, I try to understand why and how those styles work for others and then incorporate new ideas into my own parenting.

What does a safe and inclusive learning environment look like to you, and what tools do you think schools need (that the Board of Education has the power to provide) to create that environment? 

Safety and support for students and educators in schools are keystones in the roadmap forward. We should rethink our learning spaces, particularly in rural districts where funding is limited, but the impact of improvements could be felt for generations. Classrooms should function as laboratories for success; they should be places where children and teachers want to spend their time. 

As mentioned elsewhere, we are seeing an emerging crisis of chronic absenteeism that is negatively impacting student achievement. While the learning environments may look different depending on where a student lives or goes to school, the important thing to remember is that we need our education infrastructure and curriculum to reflect the communities in which our schools are located. While the State Board can set the base expectations for student learning through the standards revision process, we should look at more ways we can get feedback from students and teachers in these schools and help make Colorado a national model for inclusive learning environments and include that feedback in grantmaking decisions. 

When’s the last time you changed your mind about something, and what was it? 

Ha! This question made me giggle as I have a preteen who teaches me something new (and tells me I’m wrong) almost every day. I change my mind about things when I learn new information all the time. 

One example is a school I visited recently for my job. I was told that, based on state test scores alone, that the school was failing its students. I didn’t dive into the data at the time, and I took the opinions of others at face value. I expected to find the school in internal disarray with unhappy teachers and a culture of low expectations. 

After focus groups and interviews with administrations, teachers and families, what I found instead was a school that focused on students who had not been successful elsewhere, on families who were homeless or had recently lost a family member to gun violence. I found teachers who believed their students could go onto college prep high schools despite their life circumstances and background. I found teachers who felt supported and respected, who appreciated and implemented the professional development and coaching they were getting. I then dove into their test data a little and saw that, yes, proficiency was not nearly where it needed to be, but they were growing their students. 

Not only was the school a safe learning environment where students and staff felt welcome and loved, but also students were growing academically. Because I both listened to those inside the school and took a more nuanced look at their data, I now believe this school has a chance to truly make a difference, both academically and socio-emotionally for their students. 


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