Coloradans for Public Education Policy (C4PEP) started—only as the seed of an idea, initially—about three years ago, as a response to what I saw as a “reform” movement gone awry, particularly at the policy level. While very few would question whether the Colorado system of public education can be improved upon (in some cases, in very major ways), too many of these so-called reform proposals were then—and are still—significantly misguided.
My students—both those already working in the field as professional educators and those entering the teaching profession full of the idealism any of us would hope for in a group of beginning teachers—want to make a difference in the lives of their present and future students. Our children, as well as those who help meet their educational needs, deserve nothing less.
About fifteen years ago, as No Child Left Behind was being passed into law and initially implemented, I began hearing from many of my students about their concerns that their students and their needs were being cheated of access to such an education. Policies were being promoted by too many who had no understanding of the realities, challenges, and complexities of contemporary classrooms and schools, no sense of the aspirations of students’ parents for them, nor any meaningful appreciation of the differences between the education and the business sectors of our economy.
The recognition of how misguided many of these policy initiatives have been has recently manifested in excessive testing regimens, attacks on the very people who work most closely with students in our classrooms and schools, and efforts to undermine school boards working to ensure that districts operate with the interests of all stakeholders in mind.
Some of those pressing for various aspects of what has become known as “the reform agenda” seem more concerned with their ideological commitments and unreasonable criticisms of our schools than with workable solutions. These have sabotaged the possibility of an adequate and uniform system of education, making it even more difficult to achieve any meaningful, constructive approaches to addressing the challenges educators grapple with every day.
As a result, they neglect opportunities to develop a fuller appreciation of what it takes to make schools work for all students, and commit themselves to advocating and providing for the thought, time, and resources to improve schools for all children in them.
It is high time we rededicate ourselves to igniting kids’ passion for learning, sustaining educators’ enthusiasm for transforming the lives of our children, and recognizing the importance of a strong, effective, and equitable public education system to our democratic society.
We have a school system on the verge of becoming more separate and less equal than at any time since the historic court decision of 1954, Brown v. Board of Education. And this system is currently threatened by unprecedented efforts to privatize our current system of public education, at the local, state, and federal levels.
Coloradans for Public Education Policy (C4PEP) is fundamentally committed to the preservation and improvement of a strong, equitable, public education system. We are determined to keep all Coloradans informed about political agendas and activities that threaten this system; providing support for policy proposals, candidates, and innovations that support it; and engaging and welcoming the support of anyone who shares these commitments in this historic initiative.
We invite you to join C4PEP in this effort.