Denver parents and students rallied for better schools outside the city’s school district’s headquarters June 5.
The protest, the latest move in a campaign by education reform organizations to draw attention to the city’s southwest schools, follows an April report addressing poor student achievement in the area’s 42 schools.
Members from organizations Stand for Children and Padres y Jóvenes Unidos, and other community members held copies of the report up, yelling, “Ya basta,” Spanish for “enough is enough,” during the rally. Children wore homemade graduation caps to represent their desire to attend college.
The numbers in the report, published in part by A+ Denver, paint a grim picture for the predominately Latino community. Of every 10 students in southwest Denver, only about four will be middle school ready by fifth grade. By the time students reach 12th grade, only about 15 percent are college ready. Padres Unidos members blame the district’s lack of concern for poor Hispanic residents, which make up approximately 84 percent of southwest Denver.
Eva Gonzalez, a parent leader for Padres Unidos translated by fellow member Monica Acosta, said, “Does anyone think the board would let this happen if it were white, middle-class families?”
Nayeli Avila, a Padres Unidos youth leader, shared her story with the crowd. Avila, the product of a DPS school in southwest Denver, said when she took college entrance exams she found out she was only at a fourth-grade reading level.
“I was embarrassed,” Avila said. “Would they let this happen in Cherry Creek?”
Both organizations collected more than 1,400 signatures demanding better schools in southwest Denver. They called for DPS to create a task force specifically focused on the issues and concerns of parents, students and teachers.
Superintendent Tom Boasberg acknowledged the parent’s claims and is working toward improving all schools.
Members of Stand for Children and Padres Unidos plan to attend the board’s next meeting to push for the task force.
“[The members of Padres y Jovenes Unidos] are working with the southwest Denver community, mobilizing residents so that our platform can be implemented in the plan in collaboration with other organizations,” Gonzalez said. “We are calling on DPS to take action to end the discrimination in our schools.”
After the rally, some parents stayed to attend DPS’ special comment session on new school proposals. The board is considering proposals for new schools for the 2015-16 school year, including programs in the southwest region at Kepner Middle School.