Middle school music students from across the metro area had a chance to strut their stuff in front of legislators, their aides, parents and community members at a recent ‘Music Education Day’ at the Capitol.
The event, sponsored by Year of the Student coalition partner, Golden Music Center, was planned as part of the Year of the Student Project’s Adopt-A-Day program. A steady stream of choirs, bands, and orchestras performed throughout the day sending a strong message to legislators to “keep music in schools.” The students were also treated to a real-time civics lesson while touring the Capitol.
The Year of the Student Project is a statewide public awareness project to focus Colorado’s attention on the devastating impact education cuts are having on the students of Colorado. The Coalition has been working at a feverish pace urging legislators to do right by kids during the current legislative session. To date, the coalition has engaged nearly 10,000 Coloradans and 169 organizations and boards representing more than 100,000 citizens in the effort.
Golden Music Center is just one of several organizations that have participated in the Year of the Student’s Adopt-A-Day program since January when the legislative session began. Together Colorado, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Family Leadership Training Institute, Voting Heroes, and Colorado PTA are among the organizations that have adopted a day, calling on state leaders to create and find funding for a long term plan to make every student successful.
While each organization customized their own Adopt-A-Day activities, some had a chance to sit in on House or Senate Education Committee meetings, observe hearings on school finance, and watch debates taking place in the House and Senate chambers. Many were able to meet face-to-face with their own legislators to express their concerns about education funding and to share their personal stories about how the recent cuts have affected their family, their school or college, and their community.
‘Students don’t get do-overs’ is the overriding theme of the Adopt-A-Day effort. Letters hand-delivered to state leaders drive home the point that now is the time to address the education funding problem, and to set Colorado on long-term path to student success:
“Now that our economy is recovering, it is urgent that we ensure that our students recover, too. If we fail to provide a preschool slot for an at-risk four-year-old next year, we can’t give her a do-over next year. If a third-grader falls behind for lack of interventions, he’ll only have a steeper climb next year. If a student can’t access high school or higher ed coursework, the impact on her competitiveness could last a lifetime.
Time is running out.”
Students, all too familiar with the impact of budget restraints, are also taking an active role in advocating for their future. Earlier this month, about a dozen high school students from Aurora West and Vista Academy, members of “Students for Year of the Student”, learned how to call legislators off the floor to meet one-on-one with their elected officials. Representatives John Buckner, Jovan Melton, and Pete Lee each listened as students reflected on their personal experiences and expressed concerns for their and their younger siblings and classmates futures. The students had prepared written remarks prior to meeting with legislators. One Denver student even testified in front of the Senate Education Committee.
This session has generated a buzz about education funding under the Gold Dome unlike any other. Thanks in part to the many organizations that have adopted a day at the Capitol, education funding has become a priority during the 2013 legislative session.
There’s still time to adopt a day at the Capitol before the session adjourns on May 8, but time is running out. Follow this link to urge your legislator to make 2013 the Year of the Student. Or, link here to sign your organization up for an Adopt-A-Day event. Email firstname.lastname@example.org regarding further information about the ‘Year of the Student Project’ and/or adopt a day activities.
Colorado can, and must, do a better job of making adequate educational opportunities and resources available to ensure that every child can succeed, no matter where they live or how they learn.
Field Organizer, Great Education Colorado