Summer | Issue 12 | Date: July 21, 2021
The Latino Education Coalition held a welcome reception for Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero on July 14.
Funding Great Schools. Rooted in Community. 
Latino Education Coalition Continuing Advocacy
Efforts for Denver Students
The Latino Education Coalition is continuing its decades-long advocacy to improve educational outcomes for English Language Learners (ELLs) in Denver Public Schools (DPS). Top priorities ahead of the 2021-22 school year include the full re-integration and academic catch-up of students who did not attend school consistently during the pandemic, and possibly dropped off school rolls, and ensuring that the district’s new Superintendent, Dr. Alex Marrero, prioritizes the design, implementation and monitoring of programs for ELLs mandated by the Consent Decree. The basis of the lawsuit filed in the 1970s by the Congress of Hispanic Educators was that DPS needed to provide an equal educational experience for all students, even those who did not speak English as a primary language in their homes. About a third, or 36,000, of the students attending DPS today are identified as ELLs. 

Launched as a group of Latino community organizations, the Coalition includes the Congress of Hispanic Educators (CHE), Auraria Historical Advocacy Council, Padres y Jóvenes Unidos, Colorado Association for Bilingual Education, Latin American Educational Foundation and the Colorado Latino Leadership Advocacy and Research Organization (CLLARO). The Coalition also includes university professors, other researchers, schoolteachers and administrators, and former public officials.  

Five decades of research in education finds that children learn to read faster and better when they are taught in their native language. Under the Consent Decree, DPS is required to hire bilingual and culturally competent teachers to apply effective techniques providing students with the language skills they need to meaningfully and equally participate in school.

Over the years, DPS has witnessed impressive gains in the quality of programs offered to English Language Learners as well as gains in academic achievement. Now, Latino Education Coalition members believe the Consent Decree should be used creatively to benefit other students across the district, especially as the pandemic has exacerbated the gaps in reading and language proficiency many K-12 students already experience.
University Prep and Highline Academy Summer Initiatives
University Prep and Highline Academy charter school networks are providing summer programs for students to combat academic gaps caused by remote learning and learning disruptions during the pandemic. 

U Prep’s summer program and its comprehensive plan to help students catch up was recently featured in Chalkbeat Colorado.

The U Prep network is leveraging American Rescue Plan funds over the next two years to provide additional support to students, including funding for more teachers in grades second through fifth, targeted individual and small group interventions for students who are furthest behind, and family home visits to discuss students academic and social-emotional progress. 
This summer, U Prep in partnership with Impact Tutoring is providing nearly 60 rising fourth- and fifth-grade students with intensive tutoring in reading, writing and math. All costs, including transportation, are covered by U Prep. The U Prep network will also provide after-school tutoring throughout the school year. 

Doing its part to help kids catch up, Highline Academy hosted an arts-based summer learning program on its southeast campus for students entering third through fifth grade. The four-week program gave students an opportunity to explore math, literacy and social-emotional learning through visual art and music. Students created original songs and art and presented their learning at the end of the program. 

Second- through fifth-grade Highline students at the northeast campus also participated in summer learning activities to help combat academic gaps that were the result of the pandemic.
Rainbows Rising Theater Project
LGBTQIA+ students and allies in the far and near northeast regions of DPS will soon have a space to share their stories through a performing arts program called Rainbows Rising. 

The program—which RootED is proud to provide funding to support, will give LGBTQIA+ students and their allies a safe space to collaborate on creative storytelling projects and build community. The program will emphasize self-empowerment and advance transformative social-emotional learning. 

Levi Arinthson, the Program Manager for LGBTQ+ Equity Initiatives at DPS, said Rainbows Rising will give students a space to tell their stories. 

Arinthson said Rainbows Rising was inspired in part by students of color, who wrote and shared in 2017 a series of monologues about their experiences in DPS. 

"It was really impactful to observe such raw and open truths directly from our students," said Arinthson, who was also inspired by Vox Rising, a youth program run by a feminist activist troupe, Vox Feminista. Students in Vox Rising also wrote and produced a performance about social issues that were important to them. 

"For me, performance is so powerful," Arinthson said. "Theater is an ancient human artform that allows people to find common ground, gain empathy, learn and laugh together. There is the performance itself, a space for voices to amplify, and then the experience of working together to create something from your shared experiences."

Students who participate in Rainbows Rising will share their work in spring of 2022. 

"I hope the students participating in [Rainbows Rising] experience visibility, inclusion, voice and joy," Arinthson said.
We See You!
Marie L. Greenwood Early-8th Celebrates Families' Stories
Photo credit: Katy Tartakoff and Mary Ann Bash, EOTO Director, with Marie L. Greenwood Families
On July 20 Marie L. Greenwood Early-8th held a celebration of the school’s families with a party in their community garden.

MaryAnn Bash, founder of the Each One, Teach One program at Greenwood promotes the study of Mrs. Greenwood’s life and now is telling the stories of the Montbello school’s families with renowned Denver photographer Katy Tartakoff. Framed photos and family stories are exhibited throughout the halls of Greenwood. 

At the event, each of the eight families newly featured in the exhibit was given a framed photo and family story for their homes. Families read their stories in English and Spanish and shared delicious homemade cultural dishes. The Grey family shares, “Jonathan’s ancestors lived during slavery…his great, great, great grandmother lived to be 110 and experienced some things we will never understand, no matter what is going on in the world today. However, through many obstacles, hard times and changes, family and love was something we always continue to hold onto.” View all the portraits and stories.
Centering the strength in lived experience is one of our core values at RootED. We believe public school students, their families and communities bring strengths, perspectives and knowledge—developed through lived experiences and rooted in identity and culture—that are vital to improving public education systems and individual outcomes.

“I'm confident Mrs. Greenwood will be smiling down on us,” said Bash. “So many of the families’ stories share commonalities with her life story.”

Marie Greenwood was the first African American teacher in DPS history, see the 9News story from 2018. She was an active literacy volunteer at Greenwood school until her death in 2019, when she was approaching age 107.
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