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Our DPS Weekly: Inspiring Hope for Equity

Dec. 2, 2016
 
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Dear DPS Community,

“I’m hopeful we’ll be able to begin the conversation about what equity really means.” 

“I’m hopeful that people’s willingness to have honest/authentic conversations will lead to needed change.”

“Access and equity for all”

“Diverse teachers, one community = one Denver”

When our DPS Culture, Equity and Leadership Team (CELT) kicked off the first meeting of our African-American Equity Task Force, the conversation started with hope. We all took some time to think about and write down our hopes for what we wanted our equity work to bring to our schools. We got back many caring, thoughtful and inspiring hopes (like the ones above) that speak to the importance of this work and to what a committed group of educators we’re so lucky to have in Denver.

As I shared with you earlier this year, the African-American Equity Task Force was put together by our CELT leaders after we reviewed a pathbreaking report from Dr. Sharon Bailey. Last spring, in response to concerns from our schools and the community, we asked Dr. Bailey to report in detail on the experiences of our African-American educators and to listen to their perspectives about how our African-American students are being cared for and educated. We’re now intently addressing the findings in Dr. Bailey’s report. 

As part of that work, we are hosting monthly “ED Talks,” to give voice and discussion to the equity issues raised in Dr. Bailey’s report. This month’s ED Talk was held Tuesday at Manual High School, led by Ash Beckham, whose Ted Talk on compassion and empathy has received 2.5 million views. It was a provocative and emotional conversation about how to courageously confront difficult issues while also banding together around the values and aspirations we all share. And it’s just the start of the dialogue. I encourage you to consider being a part of an upcoming ED Talk.

Equity is one of our Shared Core Values at DPS. That means it should inform and be reflected in all that we do. And it’s important to our leadership team to get feedback from our educators about how well we’re doing in living out each of our Shared Core Values. So, every year, we ask for that feedback from the entire school district through our CollaboRATE survey, which was sent to every DPS employee this week. This is another important way to continue the conversation about equity, and the survey is a powerful listening and gut-check tool for us on how our actions are aligning with our foundational principles.

The feedback isn’t always easy to hear; but we cannot learn and grow without it. The power of hope and the depth of our community’s commitment to our children drives us through the rough spots and toward a brighter future — and a stronger city. That’s what energized the room during the first Task Force meeting, and it’s what energizes me about the work ahead. And it was clearly expressed in one more of the “hope” messages that I’ll share with you from our Equity Task Force: “My hope is that the spirit in this room spreads throughout all DPS schools.”

Best,

Tom


Read the full version of Our DPS Weekly: Inspiring Hope for Equity