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A recent poll revealed concerns of parents in Denver that students may fall behind academically and urgently ask for a plan for student learning. This question in particular got lost in negative headlines. As a former headmaster and class teacher and the wife of a current headmaster, I feel deeply connected to the reactions I have received from other educators to these pieces. I felt the blow and hit my desk in solidarity with my head.
And I want you, fellow educators, to hear that you are really being seen! In fact, a 57 percent majority of Denver Public Schools parents say they are happy with the learning options offered to their students (a point that has been lost in negativity). You’re doing a great job in an untenable reality so please keep on! We need you.
And we need your help.
As the parent of two DPS high schoolers and someone who took this survey, it’s important to point out that the real Lede was buried, and I hope we can all agree: we need a comprehensive plan for what’s next in place before the end of the school year. At this moment there is an opportunity for us to come together and think forward-looking. It may be tempting to wait for our next superintendent to lead this effort, but we need a plan now – for our children, for our teachers, and for our families. And our elected leaders need to hear this from us.
We urge our district leaders and school boards to take on this urgent task now and to discuss it at the upcoming school board meeting this week. Creating a plan that defines what learning will be like after COVID lockdown must include input and feedback from all constituencies in our public school system. By bringing together a round table of parents, educators, leaders, elected officials, mental health professionals, community leaders, and philanthropic partners, we have a greater chance of adopting a plan for how to help our children while keeping the (ever-dwindling ) Our school teams can maintain sanity.
There is no question that we all have had a difficult year. There is an urgent need to find possible measures so that we can answer questions such as: How can we be creative to support the social, psychological and academic needs of our children? How will we find out which students need which support? How do we find the pockets of excellence and replicate what works? How can we break away from “going back to business” and instead return to school in a way that all of our children can self-actualize by providing them with a tailored version of support? What are our top three priorities and how do we create a strictly realistic plan to make them come true? What should be considered when evaluating the budget allocation?
This is the work of leadership. We’re all in it together and we all need to be part of the solution.
Worthy. Diligent. Modest. Solutionist. Uniformly. These are the values of the last school I was privileged to serve. They come to my mind today as I think about the work we must do and the qualities that are required to do it … especially the idea of unified care. We must all come together to demand the creation of this plan and our diligence in implementing it and adopting it.
Let’s use this moment to reshape our thinking and regain our shared desire to create a better future for all of our children by not just asking for a seat at the table, but by building a whole new table at which we can sit in determined cooperation.
Kaye Taavialma is the parent of two high school students from Denver Public Schools. She is a former educator and headmistress and a parent representative for Stand for Children.
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