Our New School Board Expectations Moving Forward
Denver Public Schools has officially sworn in our newly elected and re-elected school board members, Xochitl Gaytan, Dr. Carrie Olson, Michelle Quattlebaum and Scott Esserman. We are proud to celebrate this moment as we have worked extremely hard in successfully electing pro-public education candidates since 2017. Throughout this time, we have made significant progress to ensure the voices of students, educators, families and community were and will continue to be heard. We thank Denver voters for listening to us.
DPS educators saw great success when Dr. Carrie Olson and Jennifer Bacon were elected as school board president and vice president. The entire board led the effort to support students during the height of the pandemic. They ensured students, families and community had access to food, technology and internet. They led one of the most inclusive superintendent searches in DPS history. We know that Jennifer Bacon will continue to serve students well in a different capacity as a member of the legislature. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with Dr. Olson as she remains on the board over the next four years. We thank them for the everlasting impact they have had on Denver students’ lives.
Additionally, we would like to congratulate the newly elected school board officers. We know that students, educators and community voices will be amplified with these leaders. This is an exciting time to reimagine how we approach teaching and learning. We look forward to collaborating with the entire board on some of our priorities and expectations moving into 2022 and beyond. These priorities and expectations include:
- Creating systems that support our students and educators of color – A majority of the DPS student demographic is made up of students of color. We must not only recruit educators who look like them, we must also retain those educators. We need to continuously improve the learning and teaching conditions for all of our historically underrepresented communities.
- Lowering class size, caseload and workload – When class sizes are smaller, students receive more one on one instruction to address their specific needs. When educators have more time to actually focus on students’ learning, kids achieve more.
- Providing wraparound services to students – Students learn best when they are supported in all aspects of life. This means providing them with basic needs like mental health services (social workers, counselors, psychologists), meals, healthcare, transportation, technology, clothing etc..
- Creating a system that is better than ‘back to normal’ – We need to eliminate the fundamental barriers that interfere with our learning and working environments. Going “back to normal” is no longer an option; “normal” wasn’t working. We need to create the conditions for all students to thrive in comprehensive neighborhood schools.
- Putting a true focus on employee rights – Each employee group deserves strong contract language that ensures students’ and educators’ needs are met. Educators’ working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. We must ensure that educators have a voice in decisions that affect our classroom. Denver Public Schools must do better at listening to and respecting our voices.
We know this work will be hard, but like I tell my students, “these things are hard, but we can do these hard things together.” Together we can create fully-supported and high-quality learning and working environments for both students and educators no matter a school’s zip code.