This is the letter that Van Schoales, A+ Colorado’s President and Executive Director shared with the A+ community on Friday, April 23, 2022. Please reach out with questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hello A+ Supporters and Friends,
After a decade of leading A+ Colorado through the ups and downs of the education transformation movement, the time has come for me to step down to take a breath and pursue other opportunities.
Public education in Colorado, and particularly in Denver, is at a crossroads. While the need for reliable data and analysis focused on school and district performance is greater than ever, the environment has shifted and will continue shifting the foreseeable future.
One important and challenging change is a lack of reliable, disaggregated data about schools and districts. The Colorado Department of Education was already moving away from transparency and openness even before the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, with a two-year pause in meaningful assessments, the dearth of data threatens to block the ability of outside parties to identify and analyze significant trends.
In Denver, a majority of the school board – which is likely to grow after November’s elections – is openly skeptical about charter schools, innovation schools, innovation zones and even a focus on ensuring all students can read. Some, if not most board members seem less interested in objective data and deep analysis than in pursuing issues that in my opinion are tangential to ensuring a quality education for all kids, and all of this in the midst of the pandemic that has laid bare the long-standing and enormous inequity at all levels of our public education system.
I do have hope that because of the new powerful movements for racial and social justice started last summer over the murder of George Floyd and too many others, that the public will eventually turn towards reimagining a public education system to support every student.
For these reasons, I believe that the mission of A+ Colorado would best be served by new leadership and, quite possibly, deeper partnerships or even a merger with a like-minded organization. The A+ Colorado board is beginning the process of considering next steps, and I have committed to remaining involved through this process. None of us can know at this point how this will resolve, but the moment is right to ask these deep questions and come up with creative solutions.
I have enormous gratitude for all our staff, supporters and board members who have done so much to build such a remarkable education research and advocacy organization over the last fifteen years. Thanks to your support, A+ Denver, and more recently A+ Colorado has done great work supporting and sometimes pushing hard to ensure that our public education system better serves all students. There is much to be learned from and proud of in this important work.
Thank you for all of your support.
Van Schoales, President