In this newsletter:Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia

–  Angela on Colorado and Company tomorrow, Thursday between 10-11am MST, channel 9 or watch live here:
–  Gratitude is the best form of advocacy :Thanking Colorado’s legislative leaders for championing children. See bill sponsors below.
Parent advocates visit with the Lt. Governor

Full legislative briefing here:

To read a full legislative briefing, please select the link above. My summary is pretty straight forward. We still have state mandated standardized tests, they are still tied to school ratings and teacher evaluations, they are still determined mostly by socio-economic status institutionalizing a system of injustice and they are still costing us millions of dollars and wasted instructional time. And you can still OPT OUT!

The number of legislators who get the nuances of high-stakes testing and are challenging the political priorities on behalf of students and public schools is growing. We had some wonderful new leaders from both sides of the isle step forward this year. Please take a look at the bill sponsors and send a note of gratitude.

Opt Out SB223
Sen. Chris Holbert, Sen Morgan Carroll,  Sen Michael Merrifield, Sen. Nancy Todd, Rep Dominick Moreno, Sen Vicki Marble, Sen Tim Neville, Sen Laura Woods, Rep Paul Lundeen, Rep. Justin Everett

Student data privacy SB173
Rep Alec Garnett, Senator Laura Woods,  Rep Paul Lundeen, Rep Justin Everett, Sen Michael Merrifield, Sen. Chris Holbert, Sen. John Kefalas, Sen Pat Steadman, Sen. Kerry Donovan

Testing bills SB257
Sen. Mike Merrifield, Sen Vicki Marble, Sen Tim Neville, Sen Laura Woods, Sen. Nancy Todd, Rep Paul Lundeen, Rep Justin Everett,  Sen. Chris Holbert.

On May 21st 9 parents and Madison, delivered concise and compelling narratives to Lt. Governor Joseph Garcia. The follow up letter to that meeting is below. It was a powerful group with a powerful message and there is more to come…

Eve Cohen – The necessity for research based policies and practices
Cheri Kiesecker – Protecting student privacy
Teresa Smith – Flawed accountability and the need for real opportunity
Lynn Roberts – Importance of relationship and collaborating to meet the needs of youth
Sylvia Martinez – Institutionalized discrimination against children of color and the need for equity
Leta Calvert – Lessons from Atlanta and reframing the education civil rights issue
Susan Johnson – Defining intelligence ;respect for students; autonomy for teachers
Madison McBride – Black lives matter and why students with less opportunity should be given more when it comes to education
Topaz McBride – At-risk children and teacher turnover

Lt. Governor Garcia,

I want to thank you for meeting with our education coalition on Thursday. I especially appreciate you making the extra time to further our conversation.
We all share your desire to bring equity and opportunity to the education system. Our hope is that there will be more opportunities for parent, student and teachers voices when it comes to education policy decisions.
I would also like to respond to a couple of themes that arose during our conversation.
Before we can adequately solve the education “problem” we have to identify it correctly. The problem is not that an “A” in Pueblo Colorado does not mean an “A” in Kansas. Standardization may solve the issue of matching grades but the real problem as it relates to the achievement gap is matching opportunities and resources. Inequality has been made worse by standardized testing. In fact, the issue of poverty has been neglected completely.
I believe that the reason black and Latino groups like the NAACP have supported high-stakes testing as a means to accountability is because they have been co-opted by the power brokers who seek to sustain a system of injustice because it is profitable. One-size-fits all outcomes are not the same as equity. As more of the data surfaces many are reaching the same conclusion that high stakes standardized tests are not the road to justice and equality. Students, now more than ever before, are graduating unprepared for the rigors of college, civic engagement and the workforce because test preparation is not the same as life preparation. The students who have been educated under the model of No Child Left Behind have lost valuable instructional hours, and they have lost even more. They have not been given the opportunity to develop their own sense of purpose because the goals of education have been reduced to school ratings and teacher evaluations. This incarnation of education reform has created more division and although measurable, has reinforced the lowest level of thinking and learning. Resulting in lasting consequences for our economy, the future of democracy and society as a whole.
There are no guarantees, particularly in public policy. There are only people. Teachers, students and parents do better in cultures of collaboration and cooperation. They succeed more and have better outcomes with adequate support systems, salaries that keep pace with inflation, resources and the ability to exercise problem solving and decision making.
As we were leaving you suggested that we talk to education leaders in our community about HB1323. While a compromise, I can tell you that no one is satisfied with the outcomes of this past legislative session. From our perspective HB1323 does absolutely nothing to rectify the damage that has been created. We are still exceeding federal testing requirements by 20 hours. All of the consequences, particularly those impacting for low-income communities have been left in place. Parents are no longer waiting for solutions to come from the legislative process. The thousands of opt outs across the state are the indication; parents and students will no longer tolerate the continued use of state and federal mandated testing.

Ultimately what we seek is the end to policies that entrust the accountability of our neighborhood schools to test publishers. High stakes standardized testing has been invalidated by the data & research community, has further widened disparities for low-income & people of color, has wasted billions of dollars, has de-professionalized educators, has led to the dismantling of community schools and has resulted in negative outcomes for all students.

We remain committed to the education well-being of children and welcome opportunities to bring a full and complete conclusion to these misguided testing policies.

Angela Engel
& Coalition members