This week Plaintiff-Intervenors MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund) is presenting witnesses.
Wayne Eads (Administrator, Greely):
- The community has become a “majority minority community”
- 13th largest school district in the state.
- Influx of migrant students and students from Somalia, Burma, and East Africa.
- Started a newcomer program to help meet needs and prepare some students who have never been in school before.
- The number of students who qualify for free or reduced lunch is increasing, and is currently at 60%.
- The district has tens of millions to hundreds of millions of unmet capital needs; this does not include the estimate it would take to meet technology and other needs.
- The buildings in the district are in poor condition. Several have asbestos that can’t be touched, painted over, or even cleaned.
- The average ratio in the district is 1 computer for every 4 students, and these computers range in age from one to ten years. The district has a 5-year replacement cycle for technology, but this has not been funded nor has the replacement cycle made it across the district once.
Steve Murdock ( Professor at Rice University, former Director US Census Bureau; Demography Expert):
- Expert report finds dramatic changes in the population in Colorado.
- Increase in Hispanics living in the state
- Changes in socio-economic status
- Rapid growth in number of children in CO school districts
- Increase in Hispanic children from 1991-2001 from one in six to one in 3
- Rapid growth and rapid diversification in children enrolled in elementary and secondary education in CO
- According to US census, over 90% of population change from 2000-2010 was due to the Hispanic population
- Connection between education level and poverty
- Students qualifying for free and reduced lunch and/or ELL services will need assistance to become better educated.
- The costs of improving their educational success may be “substantial” but the costs of failing to do so are nor extensive which would result in a poorer and less competitive Colorado.
- “The future of Colorado is increasingly tied to its minority populations, their economic future is tied to their educational attainment, and how well they do socioeconomically is increasingly how well Colorado will do.”
Dana Selzer (Retired Administrator, Greeley):
- Dr. Selzer believes that every student can reach proficiency. She testified that to get kids to proficiency, districts need to build systems to help students learn and reach those standards. If district had sufficient resources to meet standards, then the charts would show something different (instead of declining scores and a growing achievement gap).
- Dr. Selzer said that people focus on looking at outputs (i.e. getting kids to state standards) but really what they first have to think about the input (i.e. the resources necessary) to get kids there. The important parts of the “input” include: curriculum alignment, teacher training, new resources, training teachers to think differently about teaching kids to get them to these new standards, training principals, designing new evaluation system, realigning assessments, and looking at special programs (ELL, GT, SPED,) to make sure they’re aligned). In the meanwhile, teachers have been making do without because they can’t buy the necessary materials.
- New standards are good for our community, good for CO–if we can get them done. But we can’t just wish for our students to meet the new standards, there has to be support behind them to get them done.
- The school district put a moratorium on new textbook purchasing and adoption last two years because they can’t afford to buy new textbooks.
- In the district, libraries not staffed by librarians, but clerks that can be hired for less money to just check out books. Yet, Dr. Selzer testified that librarians are important resources that are critical for student learning, and further, teachers depend on them too.
- Extra resources can help, especially with targeted academic programs.
- Dr. Selzer testified that it is not that she is without hope when she sees scores from her district; she just knows that it is going to take more resources to improvestudent achievement and on track towards proficiency.
- The district doesn’t have enough resources, even with ELPA & title funding, to meet standards. Without sufficient resources, programs erode to something in name only, or they are totally cut. Budget cuts are affecting the quality of many programs, which are dying a slow death. The district’s GT (gifted and talented) program is slowly losing effectiveness, the career tech program is operating on bare bones (but is needed to meet CAP 4 K program mandates), and the ELL programs only minimally meet standards for quality programs and services.