Efforts, fueled by misinformation, to omit teaching complete history and censure teachers will not happen in Colorado after the State Board of Education voted this week to approve social studies standards for students that include ” the experiences and contributions of diverse groups: Latino, Indigenous, African American, Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, religious minorities, and LGBTQ people.”  

Together with our supporters and other partners we raised our voices in favor of students learning accurate, fact-based accounts of history that describe the contributions and persecution of certain groups.

When students have the opportunity to learn an accurate, fact-based account of history, it enables them to avoid repeating mistakes of the past, succeed in diverse workplaces and communities, and work toward creating a better and just society.

After a busy election season, I woke up feeling so proud of the work our team and volunteers did to support Colorado’s education champions! Volunteers sent 170,000 texts to Coloradans in the past couple weeks and today, we’re celebrating big wins with them.

In addition to the re-election of Governor Polis, and the election of Stand endorsed candidates in the Senate and the House, we are incredibly excited about the election of Kathy Plomer and Rebecca McClelland to the State Board.

Our focus will continue to be on prioritizing ways to improve early literacy, making sure our students are prepared to graduate on time, and ensuring our schools and communities are safe and supportive spaces for students to thrive. We are excited to share with you our policy priorities and work with you to advance them next legislative session. 

Eight Colorado parents and community members have sent over 34,000 text messages over the last few weeks in support of State Board of Education candidate Kathy Plomer. These volunteers are supporting Kathy because she is a problem solver, a public servant, and a mom. They know she will fight to ensure all our kids have access to high quality education, mental health resources, and equitable funding. 

We’ve been sharing information about how important it is to ensure we have the right people serving on the State Board of Education. Kathy wants to make Colorado public schools a place where parents want to send their kids, educators want to work, and students love to learn. 

I hope you will join me and our volunteers in voting for Kathy Plomer for At-Large representative on the State Board of Education. Your ballot needs to be dropped off by 7pm Tuesday, November 8 but no need to wait – you can drop it in a secure ballot drop box as soon as you are done voting.  You’ve got this! 

Here’s your guide to voting for education champions for the State Board of Education this November in four easy steps!  

1.) Learn more about the State Board.  

2.) Decide what’s important to you in a candidate!  

  • Do you want to elect someone that has experience in education? Is it important that your candidate talks about mental health supports for students?

3.) Research the candidates! 

4. VOTE! Be sure to complete your ENTIRE ballot and vote all the way through, including the At-Large candidate for State Board of Education.

You’ve got this! Your ballot needs to be dropped off by 7pm Tuesday, November 8 but no need to wait – you can drop it in a secure ballot drop box as soon as you are done voting. 

photo of Denver skyline with words this month at the DPS Board

Tonight, Denver Public Schools (DPS) announced its proposal to unify 10 elementary and middle schools due to declining enrollment in the district. DPS has been experiencing a decline in enrollment for years due to lower birth rates and other factors. In Colorado, schools are funded based on student enrollment so smaller schools receive less funding which impacts students and educators in a variety of ways. In 2022, the district convened a committee to create criteria to close and consolidate schools. 

According to information released by the district the following schools are being recommended for consolidation based on the criteria:

  • Columbian Elementary will unify with Trevista at Trevista 
  • Palmer Elementary will unify with Montclair School of Academics and Enrichment K-5 grades at Montclair and ECE at Palmer
  • Math Science Leadership Academy (MSLA) will unify with Valverde Elementary at Valverde
  • Schmitt Elementary will unify with Godsman Elementary at Godsman 
  • Eagleton Elementary will unify with Cowell Elementary at Cowell
  • Fairview Elementary and Colfax Elementary will unify with K-5 grades at Cheltenham and ECE at Colfax
  • International Academy of Denver at Harrington will unify with Columbine Elementary  and Swansea Elementary in a new enrollment zone with Columbine and Swansea
  • Denver Discovery School will unify with schools in the Greater Park Hill – Central Park Enrollment zone
  • Whittier K-8 will unify with schools in the Greater Five Points Elementary Enrollment Zone and the Near Northeast Middle School Enrollment Zone

This plan will be presented to the DPS Board of Education November 3rd and they will vote on it Thursday, November 17th. You can watch board meetings here. A public comment session is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 14. 

For Impacted Families:

If your school is on this list, we know this information is incredibly difficult to hear. The district has provided this family toolkit with more information about the process and timeline and your school leader will be a resource for you. Our team will share additional information and resources as we receive them. If we can support you please email me here. 

Rear view of little boy and his classmates raising arms to answer teacher’s question during the lecture in the classroom.

I’ll be honest, before I worked at Stand I didn’t think much about the members of the State Board of Education and their impact on education in Colorado. Now that I’ve learned more, I know that the State Board plays a really important role guiding education in our state.  

For better or worse, decisions made by the elected directors of the State Board of Education will impact education for my kids. So, why am I writing you about the State Board of Education today? It’s because towards the very end of our very long general election ballot this year is your decision on who you want to represent you on the State Board. You will also vote for an At-Large (statewide) Director, a seat added after the most recent census.  

READ ABOUT WHO WE ARE SUPPORTING 

There are seven elected members of the State Board responsible for overseeing the Colorado Department of Education, appointing our commissioner, approving our education budget, accrediting school districts and the programs preparing our teachers, and distributing millions of federal dollars. 

Here are a few ways the State Board is impacting education in Colorado RIGHT NOW:  

Make sure that those elected to the State Board of Education reflect Colorado’s values and commitment to our students. While it may not get the most attention, these positions make impactful decisions about the direction of our education system. Ensure you complete your entire ballot – all the way through State Board of Education Directors— and vote for champions! 

The temperatures have finally cooled down and leaves are changing – Fall is here. Another sign of Fall: your ballot for the upcoming General Election will be arriving in your mailbox in the next week. Election day isn’t until Tuesday, November 8th, but I’m writing to share information, so when you’re ready to vote you can vote for education champions this year.

To Get More Information:

First, it’s not too late to register to vote or update your information if you’ve moved. Here’s where you can get the latest information about your voter eligibility and ballot drop off and polling locations.

What’s on the Ballot:

There are a lot of decisions for you to make about the future leaders of Colorado – everyone from Governor, U.S. Senate and House, State Senate and House, Judges, and State Board of Education directors.

  • There are also statewide ballot initiatives for you to do your read up on this year.  Did you get your Blue Book in the mail yet?  Nonpartisan staff of the Colorado Legislative Council prepare this voter guide with easy-to-understand explanations of each ballot initiative.  

If you don’t have your ballot yet, but you want to prepare, this website will provide you a sample ballot for your address.

Vote By November 8:

Here’s where you can find locations to drop off your ballot. Just be sure you drop it off by November 8.

The State Board of Education is poised to vote on updates to Colorado’s social studies standards in November. A committee of educators, professors, and other experts revised the standards to align to new Colorado legislation and public feedback.

That committee faced pushback from some in the public – and some on the State Board of Education – over the number of times various groups are referenced.    A 2019 law  called for more inclusive social studies standards and lists the inclusion of information about the contributions and persecution of American Indians, Latinos, African Americans, and Asian Americans, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals within these groups. A commission of experts (the 1192 Commission) was formed as a result of this law and they made recommend updates to the standards. Now, it’s time for the State Board to accept those recommendations! 

We must ensure that efforts, fueled by misinformation, to omit teaching complete history and censure teachers do not happen in Colorado!  

When students have the opportunity to learn an accurate, fact-based account of history, it enables them to avoid repeating mistakes of the past, succeed in diverse workplaces and communities, and work toward creating a better and just society.   Schools need to be safe and supportive environments for ALL students.    Email State Board Chair Angelika Schroeder and ask her to accept the final revisions to the social studies standards by the 1192 Commission.

photo of Denver skyline with words this month at the DPS Board

Welcome to the September edition of “This Month at the DPS Board”, a monthly newsletter sharing information about the Denver Public Schools (DPS) Board of Education.    

Our goal is simple: to share what is happening at school board meetings so you can engage with the board and the district even if you cannot attend hours of meetings every month. 

Work Session-September 1,2022 

Strategic Roadmap Update  

The Board work session began with an update on the Strategic Roadmap. Dr. Marrero shared an overview of the roadmap and talked about implementation. The goal is to accelerate growth for marginalized students. There are three ways in which this will be done: elevating student experience, adult experience, and system experience. By fall of 2022, they will build organizational functions, identify leaders for each strategy, work on how they will get from current state to future state, and create a timeline and change management.  

Overview of Redistricting Process 

District staff gave an update about the redistricting process. Colorado state statute requires Denver Public Schools (DPS) to redistrict after each federal census to ensure all districts are equal in population as much as possible. A division of districts will be presumed compliant with the equal protection clause if the maximum population deviation between the largest and smallest district is less than 10%. Currently there is a huge gap in population between District 2 and District 4. The guiding principles are to balance total population in schools, to maintain minimal impact on racial and ethnic concentrations, align with city precedents, to minimize the number of impacted families because of the process, and to incorporate natural boundaries. There is a timeline on to how this process will look and a final vote on February 25, 2023.  

Superintendent Evaluation Timeline  

The board gave a timeline for Superintendent Marrero’s evaluation. All board members will be part of this process. There will be opportunities for engagement leading up to the November 14 evaluation.  

Board Topics Forecast & Agenda Review 

Staff shared a forecast of topics for future meetings. 

Public Comment and Progress Monitoring – September 19, 2022 

Progress Monitoring Report 

Staff reported an overview of state assessment data including CMAS, PSAT, SAT, and READ Act assessment results. Staff shared aggregated data of students meeting grade level expectations, also referred to as “proficient by staff, as set by the state in Math and Literacy and results disaggregated by student group. Results will be used as a baseline for setting 2026 targets.  

Some key points from the presentation include:  

  • 59% of K-2 students are proficient in literacy 
  • Across all student groups, the percentage of K-2 students scoring at grade-level and above decreased and the percentage of students scoring significantly below grade-level increased compared to pre-pandemic rates 
  • Fewer than half of multi-lingual learners are reading at grade level and 1/3 are significantly below grade level  
  • Less than 1/3 of students are proficient in math; in middle school more than half of students are not even approaching expectations indicating a substantial need for additional Math instructional support  
  • Overall, there are tremendous gaps between white students and black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) students.  

Several board members shared their concerns about persisting performance gaps, including the accuracy and relevancy of assessment data, asked for data to represent intersectional student identities and called for staff to not “speak about learning in a deficit mindset”, calling it “highly problematic”.  

View the full data presentation here

Why Ethnic Names Matter 

Vice President Anderson shared a presentation on his decision to reclaim his given name, Auon’tai, sharing historical context and his personal story to ensure students in DPS do “not feel afraid or disappointed to use their given name if they so choose.” View his presentation here

Public Comment 

Community expressed their opinions on variety of topics through public testimony. You can sign up here for public comment and speak directly to the board about what matters to you. 

Board Meeting – September 22, 2022  

Hispanic Heritage Month 

John F Kennedy High School students shared a presentation they developed to help educate their school and during Hispanic Heritage Month.  

Minority Women Business Entrepreneurs (MWBE) Presentation 

DPS has had a program to track and support women and minority owned businesses in Denver for over 20 years and is the only district in Colorado with such a program. They offer monthly workshops, networking settings, and other opportunities to support local minority and women owned businesses. The presentation offered a look into the supports and investments they make by ethnicity. Board members raised concerns over the disparity shown in Black owned businesses. Staff shared those concerns and said they have been working to prioritize increasing those numbers. The board asked for regular reports.  

Consent Agenda 

The board voted to approve a variety of items on the consent agenda including funding for various school construction projects and the personnel transaction report.  

Teacher Dismissal Recommendation 

The board considered a teacher dismissal recommendation from the Superintendent. All information was kept confidential and only presented to board members.  

Thursday, October 6 12:30-1:45pm MST Stand for Children is proud to host the Center for High School Success, Teach Kindness, and the Home Visit Partnerships to introduce programs and strategies to support safe and supportive school environments that lead to effective student and family engagement and improved attendance. Click here to register. You will receive a calendar invite with a zoom link to join the virtual event. 

Meet the Presenters

Judith Martinez, Director, Center for High School Success Read Judith’s bio here.
Gina Yacovetta, Coach, Center for High School Success  Read Gina’s bio here
Stacey Vanhoy, Executive Director, Home Visit Partnerships  Read Stacey’s bio here
Daniel O’Donnell, Director, Teach Kindness  Read Daniel’s bio here