Spring | Issue 10 | Date: May 20, 2021
Funding Great Schools. Rooted in Community. 
DPS Superintendent Search Update
Denver Public Schools has named three finalists for the role of superintendent:

  • Dr. Alex Marrero, the Interim Superintendent of City School District of New Rochelle in New York;
  • Dr. Stephanie Soliven, the Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Leading and Learning of Brevard Public Schools in Florida; and 
  • Andre Wright, the Chief Academic Officer of Aurora Public Schools.

Over the last week and a half, we have had opportunities to learn more about each candidate and provide feedback. In particular, we're eager to hear how the finalists would advance racial equity and academic achievement in Denver Public Schools. It is essential that the future superintendent of Denver Public Schools recognizes a mandate to advance racial equity in public education and is someone who can implement strategies to increase academic achievement for historically underserved students, particularly Black, Latinx and Indigenous students.

We’re also interested to hear how the finalists would expand access to high-quality education by developing new and innovative learning opportunities and strengthen the district’s portfolio of schools, including traditional, charter and innovation schools. It is critical that the future superintendent of Denver Public Schools is able to bridge ideological divides and honor the contributions of every traditional, charter and innovation school. It’s in the best interest of our families and students to preserve and expand innovative learning opportunities in and beyond their neighborhoods.
Pat Donovan Finds Mindfulness in the Mountains this Mental Health Awareness Month
San Juan wilderness September ‘20. Pat (second from the right) with a group of friends he has been backpacking with for 30 years.
“Keep close to Nature’s heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” 

This quote from John Muir captures the essence of what the outdoors means to Pat Donovan, Managing Partner at RootED. It is a place far away from the digital world that helps to bring mental clarity, deep friendships and connection, creativity, fresh air and humility. While he has been exploring the wilds of nature for over 30 years this past year has highlighted the importance of connecting with nature as a way to maintain mental and physical health. The isolation and constant screen time has taken a toll on everyone and escaping to nature has been crucial to maintaining balance and hope for the future. 

“Nature did not change during COVID….maybe it was a little more crowded... but you can always find a quiet place with the wind whistling through the trees,” says Donovan. "As my friend Felipe Vieyra recently wrote in The Mountains We Share 'we belong in the outdoors' and it is for all of us and we need it now more than ever."
DPS Board Supporting the Ednium Vision
We're happy to give a shout out to the Denver Public Schools Board of Education for committing to vote in June on whether to make financial literacy and cultural and ethnic studies courses graduation requirements for students. Ednium: The Alumni Collective has advocated for these courses, which would provide essential life skills and more culturally relevant curriculum for Denver’s students. We are pleased to see that the board will do more comprehensive work around curriculum and graduation requirements in June, and we urge board members to vote to make these courses required. 

Kudos to the board for demonstrating leadership in this area.
ReSchool Summer Supports for Families
Backers of ballot Initiative 25 which would provide low-income families with up to $1,500 for out-of-school learning opportunities has broad, bipartisan support. 

If the Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Program, or LEAP, qualifies for the November ballot and wins with Colorado voters, it could prioritize financial aid for low-income families for:
  • Out-of-school instruction in reading, math, science, writing, music and art;
  • Targeted support for children with special needs and learning disabilities; and
  • Career and technical education training or other academic enrichment opportunities.

The program would be funded by an increase on the retail marijuana sales tax by 5% by 2024, and by reallocating a portion of the public school lands income. It would also create an independent state agency to administer the program for the out-of-school learning opportunities parents could choose.

In the absence of a state-funded program, organizations like ReSchool Colorado have been doing their part to close education gaps by providing learning dollars to families to offset the costs of out-of-school tutoring, online classes, art supplies and sports fees, among other learning opportunities and activities. 

According to ReSchool, youth spend 80% of their time outside of school, and those learning opportunities and activities can be expensive. The high costs of those opportunities can exacerbate inequities in education. And ReSchool’s mission is to create an equitable education system where learning that happens everywhere - in and out of school - is fully accessible to all young people. 
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