It's time for us to commit to what's possible.
It's possible to have excellent schools that nurture talent and build confidence and competence in every student. It's possible to empower educators to design and lead classrooms that engage and inspire our students. It's possible for students to learn together in diverse communities that care for each other and the world around them. It's possible that every neighborhood in Denver has excellent schools, filled with beautiful learning spaces, where young people engage in meaningful work. It's possible for everyone in Denver to be part of a neighborhood community that values and supports the local public school as a vital element in a healthy, democratic society.
To get to what's possible, we'll need to confront some truth about our current reality.
We are killing creativity.
For most of us the problem isn't that we aim too high and fail. It's just the opposite: we aim too low and succeed.
- Ken Robinson
Creativity is as important as literacy and we should prioritize it with the same energy as we do with literacy and math. Our narrowed curriculum deprives children of the rich experiences we are capable of providing in our schools. By ending the hyper-focus on standardized testing, we will free up resources to be used for art and music, field-work and guest experts, trips and adventures. All of these things will build vocabulary, knowledge and skill in our students.
I will advocate to reduce the amount of time and money devoted to state testing and trust our teachers and principals to provide the most recent and relevant data so that we know how our children are doing in real time.
We feel unmotivated.
People are motivated by three things: purpose, autonomy and mastery. Our current school accountability system is directly at odds with all three and it is crushing the souls of our youth and educators. Even worse, the current "hunger games" competition among schools has created an unhealthy dynamic that further diminishes creativity and depletes energy.
I will work to ensure that school quality is defined and measured by the richness of learning in the classrooms and the authentic accomplishments of the students and educators over time. The first question will always be, "how are the children?" because the well-being of our children must drive every decision we make.
We are wasting the creative talents of our educators.
Currently, we are squandering talent and wasting time and money on programs and initiatives that do not get results. Instead of micro-managing, we need to free up our teachers and school leaders and provide sufficient resources to each school. With a clear and focused strategic plan in place, we can trust and empower our educators to create excellence in our schools.
If elected, I will bring experience in community engagement and strategic planning to design the future of Denver Public Schools. With a shared vision for our future, we will be able to prioritize the most important work to be done and unleash the creative capacities of our educators to accomplish our most important goals.