These posts are the opinions of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of A+ Colorado.


A+ Stay Sharp: 6.25.2020

As heat waves roll through the Front Range, education communities are hoping to recharge after a demanding school year with unprecedented challenges. A+ Colorado will be doing the same as we take a break from sending the Stay Sharp Newsletters during the month of July; we look forward to continuing to provide education updates and coverage in August.


A+ Updates

The Courage to Address Systemic Inequity: Guest blog from Mike Miles; A+ Board Member

Even before COVID-19 we knew that our public education system was inequitable. On the whole, poor and minority students did not receive the same opportunities or access to high quality programs and schools as their wealthier peers.  The pandemic only brought these enduring and systemic challenges into stark relief.

Fortunately, there seems to be a growing number of people and organizations willing to entertain real reform and even transformation of school systems in order to address inequity in meaningful ways.  The outrage prompting demands for police reforms has similarly inspired advocates and leaders to call for action to address injustice in all institutions and areas of society including education.  But outrage is not enough; outrage combined with courage and sacrifice may be. Read the full blog.

Denver Public Schools – Budget Principles Letter

While the DPS Budget Advisory Committee continues to consider options to cut $65m from the District’s budget, the proposed budget fails to address structural issues that will have lasting impacts in the future. Many of the proposed budget cuts provide short term, temporary relief while failing to address the larger systemic issues that lead to deep inequities within the District. A+ signed on to a letter, along with nine other organizations, demanding the rejection of policies and spending cuts that protect the current racial and economic power structures that perpetuate the paradigm of white supremacy in our society and education system.  The collective voice of the ten organizations demanded: (1) the equitable distribution of resources to systematically marginalized students; (2) the prioritization of social, emotional, and academic needs of students; and (3) a commitment to uphold the moral, ethical, and legal responsibilities as board members. The Board is set to vote on the final budget June 29, 2020 and there is still time to demand that the Board keep the needs of students first.

Key Factors and Considerations for a return to school this Fall

As district leaders consider options for the return to school this fall, there are a variety of factors and realities that must be taken into consideration. The spread and resurgence of the virus will likely vary widely across the state, demanding different approaches by schools and districts in Colorado. In addition to considerations for students and families, district’s need to carefully consider the teaching workforce and other essential school employees’ ability to make a safe return to work without increased risk of contracting COVID-19, particularly for those staff more vulnerable to the virus. Although we lack clarity and the decisions will remain fluid; school districts are beginning to roll out their proposals to return to school.

In Case You Missed It – The Colorado Sun features Back to School Diagnostic Letter

A+ Colorado joined a coalition of more than 10 organizations urging Governor Jared Polis, the Colorado Department of Education, and the Colorado Board of Education to begin the 2020-2021 school year with a valid, reliable, statewide diagnostic tool for every K-12 student in Colorado funded with a portion of the 10% holdback the Colorado Department of Education retained from the CARES Act. These diagnostic tests would be extremely valuable in understanding how much knowledge Colorado students gained, retained and lost in wake of a school year that was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Community Spotlights

DSST

A+ Colorado and DFER interviewed Jessica Palffy, Director of College Initiatives, Nicole Fulbright, Chief Academic Officer and Stefanie Gilary, Communications Manager from DSST Public Schools. We wanted to learn more about DSST’s E-School during COVID-19. DSST continues to check-in with students and families and ensured that all students have tech access. DSST’s college success practices continue to prepare seniors for higher ed. To learn more about and or support DSST visit https://www.dsstpublicschools.org/.

Boys and Girls Club of Colorado

A+ Colorado spoke with Boys & Girls Club in Colorado to learn about their summer programming. Boys & Girls Club has served youth for 132 years in Colorado. They focus on building safe spaces and youth development in their programming. If you want to learn more about them or support their work you can visit coloradoboysandgirlsclub.org

Anataly Uribe – Follow Up

A+ Colorado and DFER sat down with Anataly Uribe, a kindergarden teacher at McGlone Academy. We wanted to follow up with Anataly to hear about how her family engagement and student progress looked towards the end of the school year.


Engagement Opportunities

Census Awareness Week

This week is Census Awareness Week, and making sure every Colorado community is counted is critical to the future for Colorado’s education system. The census will determine the use of federal funds for Colorado’s school districts, and counting your community is essential to serving Colorado’s children and families. Respond to the census here.

Climb Higher Colorado – Systems Impact Institute

The application for Cohort 3 of Climb Higher’s Systems Impact Institute is now open. The Systems Impact Institute is a year-long program designed for dynamic members of organizations across Colorado who want to develop their understanding and skills for systems change within the education landscape. The deadline to apply for the Systems Impact Institute is Monday, July 20th at 5:00 PM Mountain Time.

Summer Education Policy Course with CU Denver School of Public Affairs

The Summer Institute in Education Systems Leadership and Policy at the CU Denver School of Public Affairs is open to applications. This program began as education systems are transforming and require a new level of public leadership. The goal of the program, now part of a new graduate concentration in Education Systems Leadership and Policy, is to develop current and aspiring leaders and entrepreneurs working in public and private sector organizations engaged in education systems transformation and redesign

How will cuts to Colorado’s State budget impact communities? Online webinar
Join The Colorado Health Foundation on Wednesday, July 8th  for an informational discussion about the drastic changes to Colorado’s budget in 2020 and what lies ahead in the coming years’ economic forecast.  Additionally, they will share ways that you can access critical information to help you follow state policy changes that may impact your organization and community. You can register for the event here.


Community Resources

National Council on Teacher Quality – Pillars to reading success

NCTQ has focused advocacy on improving literacy rates; claiming it as some of our most important work in pursuit of educational equity. National data show has demonstrated that nearly half of all Black children and a third of Hispanic children, year after year, score “below basic” in reading. To that end, they recently  reached out to some of the nation’s leading reading researchers and practitioners approaching them with the charge to give state policymakers the best practical, specific advice they can to improve literacy rates in their state. The end result was the Four Pillars to Reading Success.


Staff Spotlight

Van Schoales, President

Go-to quarantine meal: Kabobs from Yahyas on Colfax.

Favorite spot in Colorado during the summer: Normally Red Rocks Show, now any trail run in mountains

Favorite online concert or recording: I just heard an amazing preview of the latest Everest album, written and produced during pandemic to be released in a few months.


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