Statewide Coalition Launches Effort to Make 2013 the “Year of the Student”

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By Lisa Weil, Communication & Policy Director for Great Education Colorado
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Warning that ongoing education cuts are endangering Colorado’s students, communities and economy, a diverse group of students gathered on June 13 at the State Capitol to announce the official launch of an unprecedented public engagement project to make 2013 the “Year of the Student” – when the General Assembly uses the 2013 legislative session to start reinvesting in Colorado’s preschools, schools, colleges and universities. 

Joined by representatives from the more than fifty community and advocacy organizations that have endorsed the Year of the Student project so far, the students described how the legislature has failed to ensure that all Colorado’s students have a fair shot at success in their communities and the competitive 21st century workplace. 

“It’s good that the cuts to schools and colleges weren’t as bad as we thought they’d be this year, “ noted the 9th grade founder of the Douglas County Kids Campaign, Hayley Stromberg,  “but school funding in Colorado right now isn’t OK.  What happened in the Capitol this year isn’t going to make things better for students at my school or at schools and colleges across the state.”

Among the stories told from the personal experiences of the students:

  • High school classrooms that can’t hold enough desks for the number of students in the class and where there were no textbooks to distribute;
  • A rural school where cuts resulted in a turnover of about two-thirds of teachers in a four-year period and the elimination of high level math; 
  • Mounting debt for higher education students;
  • Early childhood education made affordable only through the generous subsidies of the preschool provider.

“Colorado can do much better,” commented recent Overland High School graduate Luna Abraha, “and I’m hopeful that it will, now that this coalition is coming together for the Year of the Student.”

The Year of the Student launch gives individuals and organizations that support public education simple ways to add their voices to the call for meaningful action in the 2013 legislative session.  A website http://2013forstudents.org/great-education-colorado allows supporters to sign a “call to action” online, to download a hard copy of the “call to action” for signature gathering, and to add their organization as an endorsing partner.  Year of the Student signatures will be gathered over the next seven months and then presented to the newly elected General Assembly in January 2013.  

During the June 13 press conference, students put together a six-piece puzzle, representing the components of a complete education system:

  • Meeting the needs of every student no matter how they learn, no matter what challenges they face;
  • A quality education for every student, no matter where they live;
  • Universal access to quality preschool so that every child is ready to learn and ready to thrive when they start school;
  • Quality, affordable higher education for all Colorado students;
  • Resources (e.g., career and college counselors, career and technical education opportunities, and concurrent enrollment programs) to provide every student with the opportunity to find their path to success in the 21st century economy;
  • A highly effective, well-supported teacher in every classroom.

Stromberg suggested how state leaders can go about the hard work of fixing Colorado’s education funding shortfall: “They can do the same thing my parents and teachers tell me to do when I’ve got a tough assignment or a problem to figure out: think outside the box; take responsibility; don’t make excuses; ask for help when you need it; and, most important, don’t give up just because something is hard, especially if it’s the right thing to do.”

Recent Yuma High School graduate Annsley Brophy summarized, “If the legislature does not fix this problem, students will keep paying the price.”

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Supporting Organizations

  • 100 Black Men of Denver
  • 4blackyouth.com
  • Adams County Education Consortium
  • Ameribuild Company
  • AFT Colorado
  • The Arc of Douglas and Arapahoe Counties
  • Autism Society of Colorado
  • The Bell Policy Center
  • Boulder Valley Gifted and Talented
  • Children’s Voices
  • Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented
  • Colorado BOCES Association
  • Colorado Children's Campaign
  • Colorado Council of Churches
  • Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council
  • Colorado Progressive Coalition
  • Colorado PTA
  • Colorado Rural Schools Caucus
  • Colorado Seniors4Kids
  • Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition
  • The Crowley Foundation
  • Denver Institute for Urban Studies
  • District Twelve Educators’ Association
  • Douglas County Kid Campaign
  • Earth Force
  • Education Foundation of Eagle County
  • Every Child Matters Colorado
  • Friends of Jeffco Music
  • Get Smart Schools
  • Golden Music Center
  • Grassroots St. Vrain
  • Great Education Colorado
  • Great Futures Colorado Coalition
  • Greater Park Hill Community
  • Heart and Hand Center
  • Hulstrom Options K-8 PTA
  • Impact on Education
  • Jefferson County Association for Gifted Children
  • Kandie Land Academy
  • Men Who Care, Inc.
  • The National Center for School Engagement
  • Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives
  • Our Kids, Your Kids Coalition
  • Padres y Jovenes Unidos
  • The Partnership for Families and Children
  • Sims-Fayola International Academy
  • Strong Schools Coalition from Douglas Co.
  • Students Making a Reliable Tomorrow (SMART)
  • Support School Libraries
  • Taxpayers for Public Education
  • Tennyson Center for Children
  • Through Christ Everything is Possible
  • Tri County Youth Council (Jefferson, Cripple Creek and Gilpin)
  • Tubman-Hilliard Global Academy
  • United States Student Association
  • Urban Colors Arts and Mentoring
  • We Teach the Children
  • Women Informed Network
  • The YESS Institute
  • You Can Begin Again
  • Young African Americans for Social and Political Activism
  • Youth Directions

Endorsing Board Resolutions

  • Aurora Public School Board of Education
  • Boulder Valley School Board of Education
  • Denver Public School Board of Education
  • Colorado Commission on Higher Education Higher Education
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