July 31, 2017

DENVER — Education is the most vital and integral part of society. Education also, at times, becomes one of the most forgotten pillars of our societal structure.

Education is something that within the African-American community was fought for, marched for, prayed for, and died for. Many years came and went with African-Americans being legally denied the opportunity to read!

Far too often, in the modern day, education is overlooked, undervalued and deemed not worthy of attention. This belief not only hurts us in the present time, but it will be the demise of the future generations of global leaders.

Today in Colorado, the state annually checks in near the bottom nationally for school funding. Students are annually receiving resources far below the national average, thus setting them behind the bell curve early into their academic voyage. According to the 2015 results from the National Center for Education Statistics, Colorado’s per pupil K-12 funding was $2,685 below the national average.

This underfunding means that students weren’t able to receive the high-tech gadgets common in schools across the country, teachers’ salaries weren’t on par with their colleagues in other states, and Colorado’s poor funding has even caused some of the rural area school districts to resort to half days and 4-day school weeks. All of your students deserve much better than this!

Poor funding has also hindered schools with large African-American and minority populations. We know that investments in early childhood development pay huge dividends in closing and preventing opportunity gaps. Yet, research shows that practices like out-of-school suspension and expulsion are widening the gap in education achievement. In Denver, for example, Pre-K through 3rd grade, Black children made up 12.4% of the school population in 2016, but 40% of the Pre-K through 3rd grade out of school suspensions. You’re right. I couldn’t believe it either.

Where we currently find the state’s funding of education is far from great. But there are initiatives and individuals working throughout the state to make sure these inadequacies change soon!

Many feel uncertainty and hesitation when deciphering the top levels of the US Department of Education. The silver lining is education has never been more locally driven. As we stand today, more power is given to school districts and state boards. Therefore, the passionate voices and voters throughout the state will be the only thing that can right this education vessel. These voices need to be louder than ever and parents need to take every opportunity to create and ensure the best learning environment for their child.

The Urban League of Metropolitan Denver regularly host coffee hours with parents and community leaders to find solutions as well as in-home visits with fervent parents desperately searching change. If hosting an in-home event or attending a coffee hour intrigues you please contact the Urban League of Metropolitan Denver.

Kris Colley | Education Specialist, Urban League of Metropolitan Denver