Report highlights ways to achieve greater quality, equity in Denver Public Schools

Written by: Children's Campaign
Date Posted: November 19, 2021

This past week, a team of community co-researchers from organizations across Colorado released their report on Denver Public Schools (DPS) titled, “Community Views on Quality and Equity in Education.” This project highlights the invaluable perspectives of Black, Brown, and Indigenous students and families, and their experiences with DPS as it relates to racial justice. Data for this study were collected over a period of five months, including 200 community surveys and 28 community interviews with a total of 92 participants.

 This study took place during a critical moment for DPS, as they are currently developing a new strategic plan focused on improving educational equity.  After analyzing the interviews, co-researchers identified five topics that participants described in their discussion of educational quality and equity, which include the following: 

  • Systems: While district systems create the biggest challenges for students and families, they also offer the greatest opportunities to improve quality and equity. Participants described the inequities in support across schools in the district, expressing that the schools serving wealthier families offer students better opportunities to thrive. Ultimately, students and families want systems that are equitable, well-resourced, and retain culturally responsive educators and leaders. 
  • Responsiveness: Participants want DPS to create culturally responsive systems that are able to better meet their needs. They need schools that recognize their humanity beyond academics and prepare them for the “real world” they will experience as people of color.  
  • Struggles: Due to past and current racist practices in our education system, students and families of color continue to struggle to succeed in DPS. Participants discussed the district’s collective failure to acknowledge how racial inequality persists through resources, hiring practices, funding, and policies. Black, Brown, and Indigenous students and families want the district to acknowledge their historic pain experienced in DPS, address their struggles, and engage them in enacting systemic change.  
  • Voice: Participants talked about repeatedly being silenced or disrespected when they expressed their concerns and demanded change. They want to share their voices to help develop educational solutions that challenge inequality and meet the needs of their communities. Black, Brown, and Indigenous students and families want DPS to listen to and uplift their voices, placing them at the center of change in the district.  
  • Hope: Black, Brown, and Indigenous students and families have hope that DPS can improve educational equity and quality across the district. To accomplish this, DPS must be willing to share power with families, students, and educators of color. Participants believe that DPS can be a place where everyone thrives and has adequate support based on their own definitions of success and well-being.  

The report offered a number of recommendations that could help create a more culturally responsive and just system that supports all student in DPS. These recommendations include creating consistent systems across DPS schools that ensure equitable, quality education; hiring and supporting educators and leaders of color at all levels; providing racial justice curricula for all students; establishing an action plan and timetable for combatting school-to-prison pipelines; and improving parent/family communication and opportunities for growth, among other things.  To read the full report and its recommendations, click here. 

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About Children's Campaign

The Colorado Children’s Campaign is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization committed since 1985 to realizing every chance for every child in Colorado. We advocate for the development and implementation of data-driven public policies that improve child wellbeing in health, education and early childhood. We do this by providing Coloradans with trusted data and research on child wellbeing and organizing an extensive state-wide network of dedicated child advocates. For more information, please visit www.coloradokids.org.