Per­spec­tive: To im­prove schools, lis­ten to stu­dents, par­ents and teach­ers

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST - By Sean Davis and Moira Casa­dos Cas­sidy

Den­ver teach­ers are set to strike on Mon­day. We are fight­ing for a con­tract that would al­low us to af­ford to live in Den­ver and con­tinue teach­ing the stu­dents we love. Our cur­rent fight is also part of a larger move­ment for demo­crat­i­cally-con­trolled pub­lic schools, free from cor­po­rate in­ter­ests. It’s time to come clean about a decade of failed pol­icy in Den­ver Pub­lic Schools and take on the in­ter­est groups be­hind this failed ex­per­i­ment.

We were dis­mayed to hear that The Den­ver Post, along with some of the city’s po­lit­i­cal elite, have cho­sen to op­pose teach­ers’ right to strike. Again and again, these groups have cho­sen to stand against the best in­ter­ests of Den­ver stu­dents. Again and again, the cor­po­rate-backed re­form poli­cies cham­pi­oned by Den­ver elites have failed our stu­dents. The young peo­ple we work with ev­ery day are the fu­ture of this city, and we won’t stand by while our lead­ers sell them out.

Cor­po­rate-backed poli­cies — like merit pay, high-stakes test­ing and school choice — have chipped away at our schools for too long. Ten years into the school re­form ex­per­i­ment, Den­ver’s achieve­ment gap has only grown, fur­ther dis­ad­van­tag­ing poor and work­ing-class stu­dents of color. The re­forms have done noth­ing to ex­pand op­por­tu­ni­ties for these stu­dents. They have done noth­ing to make teach­ing a sus­tain­able ca­reer in our city.

Ed­u­ca­tion re­form­ers claim to care deeply about low-in­come and mi­nor­ity stu­dents. But their ac­tions speak louder than their words. Poli­cies backed by The Den­ver Post, pow­er­ful voices like Fed­erico Peña and the Den­ver Metro Cham­ber of Com­merce have led to the clos­ing of 48 neigh­bor­hood schools with rich his­to­ries and gen­er­a­tions of grad­u­ates. These schools have been re­placed by char­ters and co-lo­cated schools. The fact is, clo­sure of neigh­bor­hood schools not only has failed to im­prove stu­dent out­comes, it has de­nied a gen­er­a­tion of young peo­ple stable, com­pre­hen­sive schools. It also has cost tax­pay­ers un­told mil­lions as a re­sult of bal­loon­ing ad­min­is­tra­tive over­head.

Den­ver doesn’t need to look far to find strate­gies that ac­tu­ally work. Decades of data on school in­te­gra­tion and re­cent find­ings on com­mu­nity schools have shown their pow­er­ful abil­ity to im­prove out­comes for stu­dents of all back­grounds. Par­ents know their kids, teach­ers know their stu­dents and re­search shows re­sults — let’s use this ex­per­tise to im­prove stu­dent achieve­ment.

Den­ver teach­ers are ready to strike for the schools that our stu­dents de­serve. The whole city is watch­ing, and now is the chance to stand on the right side of his­tory. We urge The Den­ver Post, com­mu­nity lead­ers and all po­lit­i­cal par­ties to work with us — teach­ers, par­ents and stu­dents — to en­sure that all Den­ver stu­dents have ac­cess to a world

class ed­u­ca­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.