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

Stay Sharp Newsletter: March 2020

While COVID-19 has presented complex challenges for individuals and leaders throughout the state, A+ Colorado remains focused on providing data-driven information and advocacy to strengthen the community. Education partners state-wide are in the midst of supporting their families’ basic needs while others have started to develop strategies to respond to this unprecedented crisis. We are committed to supporting our partners and using our capacity during this time to share information based in research. This month’s Stay Sharp Newsletter will keep you in the know with information, resources, and insight to leading best practices to serve students as A+ Colorado refocuses the scope of our work. 

A+ Updates

Join the A+ team!

A+ Colorado is hiring a Vice President of Policy and Research. We are looking for a teammate who is as passionate as us about using data to improve public education. See the full job description and how to apply here.

Community Ed. Celebration Recap

As individuals and families face the realities of the Coronavirus; it’s important to reflect on and understand the importance of community and supporting one another. A+ Colorado recently brought together 150+ education advocates and civic leaders to for the Sharpening Education Celebration. Catch a recap of the event here.

News to share

CMAS Suspended

State testing (CMAS and SAT) has been suspended for the 2019-2020 school year in Colorado, and a growing number of states, because of school closures. This was the right call by Governor Polis and Commissioner Anthes given the circumstances. Having said that, Colorado must target resources and support for the thousands of Colorado students that already need additional support during this crisis and for the months and years to come. Understanding what students know and can do will be even more important in focusing support students in the coming years.  State testing is a critical and necessary component of an effective public education system that is supports all of our kids to be prepared for life, higher education and work     

Making Lemonade out of COVID-19 or Simply Surviving with Kids at Home

Families and kids are now faced with a new reality of school at home, not just for the next few weeks but likely for the rest of the school year. As this is a time of uncertainty and stress for most families, it could be a time to rethink what and how students can be learning. Van Schoales reflects on the learning opportunities available to parents as they find themselves at home, in the role of the teacher. Read his piece here.

Parenting During the Pandemic

Alexis Senger, a Colorado parent shares the new reality and challenges she faces teaching and working from home, and her new normal as COVID-19 has forced the closure of all public and private schools throughout Colorado. Read her piece here.

Discussing School Choice for Immigrant Parents

Evans Kwesi Mensah, an African Leadership Group partner, and bestselling author, shares what it’s like navigating school choice for Colorado immigrant families. Read his piece here.

School Community Processes on Hold

The viral outbreak has also paused or shifted important community processes. In Denver, the community committees to gather input and develop the next Denver Plan are on hold. Committee work focused on a potential new bond could pivot given the new economic reality. The committee to Reimagine the SPF is currently scheduled to continue meeting but we realize with school closed and cancelled assessments there are a new host of issues for the state and Denver to work through in terms of school ratings. In Aurora there are pending board decisions that will stem from the recent Blueprint APS Regional Design Teams around school facilities and program specializations. Across the state, community committees and partnerships to co-develop local mill levy overrides and bonds are unable to meet in-person. At A+ Colorado, we believe deeply that school districts should be co-creating decisions with the community. While that becomes more difficult as school buildings close and districts reorient teaching and learning, we believe that these will be important processes and engagements to restart after the virus passes. We will monitor the progress of these committees as they begin to reconvene.

Social Distancing Activity of the Day: Fill Out the Census!

Fewer than 10 minutes of your time will impact our communities for the decade to come. From ensuring our political representation at the federal level, to distributing over $13 billion to Colorado, you can make sure Colorado counts. Fill out the Census: it’s safe (it’s confidential, and there is NO question about the citizenship or documentation status of people staying at an address ), easy (fill it out online), and fun (ok, this may not be a totally universal experience, but hey, we’re data nerds over here). 

A+ Answers

“Which Students are the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 crisis and what can be done to help them?”

During these difficult times, as districts are tasked with unprecedented situations and decisions, we wanted to take the time to shine a light on a student population that is often overlooked, those without stable home environments. The state defines students experiencing homelessness as any youth who lacks a “fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.” This includes youth who are temporarily staying with other family members due to economic hardship or other temporary housing situations. Read the full A+ Answers here.

Spotlight: Community Partners Stepping Up To Support Families 

While community and advocacy groups have utilized various responses to assist their communities during the Coronavirus, we remain committed to providing a window into these organizations so our community best understands what’s happening throughout Colorado. Transform Education Now has compiled a list of at-home parent resources that include information on daily free meal resources, socio-emotional support, and digital parent meetings to stay connected as a community. Denver-based community organizing group Padres Y Jóvenes Unidos response has included information shared on social media from the Colorado Department of Labor, and a map where families can receive meals throughout Denver. Young Aspiring Americans for Social and Political Activism has focused on supporting students with virtual learning, Colorado Youth Congress has established a fund to support students with their economic needs and Stand for Children Colorado has published a blog on how to get help and where.

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