Denver’s Attempt to Address Their “Enrollment Gap”

Superintendent Michael Bennet and the Denver School Board:

The Rocky Mountain News series, “Leaving to Learn [Denver Public Schools Enrollment Gap],” tells a painful and accurate story about the state of our school district. It is hard to admit, but it is abundantly clear that we will fail the vast majority of children in Denver if we try to run our schools the same old way. The evidence in Denver and from big-city school districts across the country is undeniable. Operating an urban school district in the 21st century based on a century-old configuration will result in failure for too many children. It is long past time to admit this. As a district and a community, we must gather strength and have the courage to make change, knowing that the changes we face are much, much less perilous than the status quo.
Many believe that our system is intractable and impossible to fix. They look at our high dropout rate, our low achievement rate, and decades of failed reform efforts in Denver and around this country, and conclude it cannot be done.
This answer is obviously intolerable for the 72,000 children in our school district, and for the tens of thousands of children who will receive a public education in Denver over the next decade. We must refuse to accept that this is the best we can do for the next generation, or, worse, that this is all we can expect of them.
In view of the current discussions in Denver about whether to close schools after years of declining enrollment and shifting demographics, now is the time to re-examine how our system works. No matter how compelling the arguments for school consolidation, school closures create pain and upset expectations about daily life. In the shadow of this potential dislocation, we are obligated to reconsider the way we do business to ensure that our schools and our students will succeed. In the coming months and years, we must renew and rejuvenate the educational opportunities available to all of Denver’s children.
Cities all across the country face dramatic change sooner or later. For a variety of reasons, we think Denver is in a position to create the first 21st century urban school district in the United States. Not the least of these reasons is our tremendous faith in the committed people who work for DPS and in the citizens of Denver. We must not make the easy, but terrible mistake of confusing a lack of confidence in the system with a lack of confidence in ourselves or our children.

Related; Barb Schrank’s “Where have all the Students Gone?“. Joanne Jacobs has more.

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