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August 19, 2020
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Equity Best Practices for Learning/Childcare Pods

The Denver Public School (DPS) system has announced that Grades Kindergarten – 12th will be virtual until October 16. 

When completing the DPS Annual Family Update, DPS families have two options:

  1. The 100% “virtual” program option (which is fully remote/online learning)
  2. The in-person learning option, which may begin October 19th, and may include full-time in-person learning or a mix of in-person and “remote” learning. 

The fact that all students will be fully remote/online until at least October 16th (and potentially longer) provides a renewed challenge to many DPS families:

  • Those who cannot afford childcare for school hours
  • Single parent households
  • Those without work flexibility to work from home
  • Those who can work from home, but do not have the time, energy or skills to support DPS virtual learning/child care
  • Those without learning spaces, equipment, or WiFi 

Many families are banding together to create child care/Learning Pods, while still enrolled with DPS. A small number of DPS families have the privilege to be able to afford a teacher or tutor to provide in-person support for virtual learning, often in a group with other families/students. Some of these families have reached out to ask how they might address the inherent inequity in these pods, see below for consolidated recommendations:

Short Term Actions

  • Read the DPS Learning Pod statement at https://www.dpsk12.org/board-of-education-statement-on-learning-pods-and-their-impact-on-the-community/
    • DPS would like parents to stay enrolled in their public school so that the school receives funding, first and foremost.
    • DPS loses about $11K per student, half of which schools lose, and DPS has already had $65M cut from the budget
  • Allow each family to pay a percentage of the total weekly cost based upon means (e.g. Adjusted Gross Income)
  • Allow teachers/tutors to add their child(ren) to the pod if they want/need to, or wear their babies/toddlers (think of the wonderful example that can set for your kiddos)
  • Consider group-funding a seat for a child experiencing poverty if all parents have means to pay equal share (the teacher might be able to lower their rate slightly to contribute)
    • Not sure where/how to find a student in need? Reach out to your school’s Principal/PTO or post to your school’s Facebook page
  • Talk about all of this openly and honestly as a group of parents (and also with the teacher) so you are all aligned
  • Support the ballot measure petition at https://fairtaxcolorado.org/ (ballots were due 07/25/20, but you can still follow, volunteer and donate)
  • If you have work flexibility and you are looking to save money, five families can co-op: each family takes one day off per week and handles that day of virtual learning support/child care at their home
  • Consider donating school supplies and PPE to your Preschool/Elementary School
  • Reach out to your Preschool/Elementary School teachers: ask them what they need and how you can help, listen to what they tell you

Long Term

  • Vote yes for school funding ballot initiatives
  • Volunteer to help advocate for school funding ballot initiatives (e.g. phone calls, emails, social media posts)
  • Donate to schools/community organizations that support students experiencing poverty
  • Donate to local organizations that help fund childcare for our most vulnerable families (e.g. low income/CCAP-eligible front line and essential workers)
  • Create a fundraiser for families/schools/classrooms in need at your Preschool/Elementary School or elsewhere if yours are well supported by community/parent fundraising
  • Consider supporting The Bell Policy Center and the Colorado Fiscal Institute
  • Consider supprting/volunteering for Transform Education Now (TEN)
  • Consider supporting/volunteering for RootED Denver
  • Reach out to your Preschool/Elementary School teachers: ask them what they need and how you can help, listen to what they tell you

If you have decided to withdraw from DPS to homeschool or attend a Private school, please know that DPS’enrollment policy currently allows you to return to your Enrollment Zone or choice school next Fall (you are guaranteed to be able to return to your boundary school so long as you have not choiced out of it) if you do the following things: 

  1. Attend at least one day in August, 2020 (and ideally all the way until Oct 1 to lock in school funding)
  2. Contact your school to withdraw to attend private school or email Kristy_obryan@dpsk12.org to file an intent to homeschool
  3. Email the DPS Enrollment Office with any questions: SchoolChoice@dpsk12.org
  4. In January, 2021 (before SchoolChoice Round 1 closes), contact the DPS Enrollment Office to let them know that you would like to return to your school the following fall 
    • While you are guaranteed a seat, there is a small possibility that your school may be in an overflow situation due to the number of boundary/enrollment students from the prior year that also have the right to attend. If that is the case, you would be offered a seat at a nearby school and provided transportation for the 2021-22 school year, and you may be able to return to your original school the year after (provided the school and grade is no longer in an overflow situation) 

More info at http://schoolchoice.dpsk12.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Homeschooling-Considerations.pdf?fbclid=IwAR05LMuVLEG6FhIOLB4CISWM3CPdCmTJAhkrsig9nBMlBOFa14m1m7S-OOU

Contact Keely if you are still looking for remote schooling support/resources.

Photo by Ben Mullins on Unsplash

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