The Stand team wholeheartedly believes that to create meaningful change, we must LISTEN. We hear and feel time and time again that decisions are made without consulting with the community that will be impacted the most, therefore we try to provide spaces for our community to speak and raise their questions or concerns about their lived experiences and what they witness in education and more broadly in our communities.
After digesting our legislative and local wins, like every year the Stand team took a step back and hosted listening sessions for the community to inform the impact we want to make in the future. Participants/Attendees consisted of educators, families, current students, alumni, and higher-ed educators from all over Colorado.
There were three questions posed to guide the conversation:
When you think about education in Colorado, what worries you? What would you want to see improved? What is working?
Some of the concerns raised about education in Colorado were teacher burnout, lack of social and emotional learning in the classroom, inequitable use of funds and lack of family engagement.
“What worries me is the teacher turnover rate and the fact that they are being asked to do things in addition to their teaching jobs.”Pamela, parent and Stand fellow, raising her concern on why she thinks teachers are leaving the profession at an alarming rate
Community mentioned that what is working is the hard work and effort teachers are demonstrating as they juggle everything to provide the best educational experience for all students.
“What is working is our schools, our teachers, and our staff at schools really care about our kids– like really, really care. The people that are there are working so hard.”Leah, parent, giving praise to our educators and staff for their work
When you think about education, what can be improved in your school climate? Think about things like do you feel welcome, how are the discipline practices and do your kids have access to mental health services?
Community called out the need to minimize class sizes to improve school’s climate for families, students, and teachers. They also stated the need for more multi-lingual/bilingual school personnel to ensure families and students feel welcome. An abundant of community members also named that the mental health providers in schools tend to not have capacity for students that are facing mental or emotional challenges, so although the resources are present— they are not accessible.
“When they [paras] are not there, the wheels come off, then we start pulling people for coverage all over the place and the whole deal is to get through day and to becomes a survival game and not a productive game.”Ryan, Elementary School Educator talking about her concerns with large class sizes with little to no support or resources
“Se que mamas no van a las reuniones cuando les dicen pero estan bien por eso porque tal vez tienen temor que le vayan a hablar en ingles y no vayan a entender lo que van a decir. | I know that moms don’t go to the meetings when they are told, and for good reason. Maybe they are scared they will only be speaking in English and they won’t understand what is being communicated to them”Maybelline, parent and Stand fellow expresses her concern about language barriers being a real reason why families do not get involved
When you think about safe community and our criminal justice system, what worries you? What would you want to see improved? What is working?
There were concerns mentioned about Colorado’s criminal justice system and the approach on safe communities by addressing gun violence and bullying.
“There is a lot of focus in safety in schools [right now], but I wonder if what we are doing is something that makes us feel better or if it’s really going to work, like SROs—is bringing them back going to make us feel better or going to work?”Tami, parent of DPS student and PTO member of her student’s school
Other concerns were raised such as lack of technology or internet access, rural schools and their dire need for educators, school funding formula, the discipline matrix, and implicit bias in educators. Some concerns will be directly addressed in our policy goals, while others we will address with partner with organizations experienced in addressing bullying or technology issues.
Nonetheless, we are excited to announce that we will be working towards making impactful changes this upcoming year through our impact agenda. We will be posting more details about our plans, so keep an eye out!