On Saturday, December 15th, parents from across the Denver Metro Area gathered at Mi Casa Resource Center to learn about education funding in Colordao and strategize ways to become more effective advocates for fully-funded full-day Kindergarten.
The day kicked off with a quick ice breaker where participants were asked to imagine themselves as a school official in charge of the budget. They then had to divide up that budget in whatever way they saw fit. Some groups prioritized higher teacher pay, while others put more money towards extracurricular acitivities. There were no right answers and parents had the opportunity to really think about and discuss the things they wanted to see funded.
Afterwards, Krista Spurgin, Executive Director of Stand Colorado, walked parents through an overview of education funding in Colorado and explained how the lack of statewide full-day kindergarten funding is an equity issue.
Angela Cobián, District 2 representative on the Denver School Board, also spent some time with our group by leading an engaging storytelling training. She reminded parents that "vulnerability is a connection point" and that their stories and experiences had incredible potential to inspire change. Cobián also encouraged participants to think of a story and how they could highlight different parts of that experience to emphasize different policy needs.
After a delicious lunch catered by E Hijoles Tacos and awards ceremony with deputy superintendent Susana Cordova, we dived right into practicing important advocacy skills such as recruitment, social media, and contacting elected officials. Parents also had the opportunity to share their stories. Lisa V., a kindergarten teacher from Colorado Springs, told a powerful personal story by talking about her upbringing in a single-family home and how her kindergarten experience provided her "with a safe place to thrive." Jessica E., a mother with children in Denver Public Schools, called out the large gap of readiness that exists in Kindergarten classes and how teachers need a full-day to "ensure that they're all ready to begin their elementary education on an even playing field." Finally, Scarlett, an elementary school student in Denver, spoke about her brother with special-needs and how "if he didn't go to full-day kindergarten, he wouldn't be where he is today."
Overall, we had an incredible day of learning, sharing, and planning! Thank you to our participants for coming and engaging. We look forward to working with you all towards more equitable education systems in Colorado!