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Commissioner's Statement on Race and Equity in Education ─ June 10, 2020

During the last few weeks, we have felt the dramatic pain, suffering and anger in response to the killing of George Floyd and so many before, and it has caused me and many others to take a deep look inward.  I have been observing, thinking, listening, learning and grieving with so many across our state and country.  I’ve been listening and reading about race, racial injustice and how to bring about real change. I have been trying to figure out how to lead through this.  I have a lot to learn, as many of us do.

I can say that I am heartbroken by the last two weeks, but even more heartbroken by the years of disappointment that Black Americans and all people of color – our colleagues, peers, friends and students of color – have had to endure. 

We are in the business of education and education governance. The mission of the Colorado Department of Education is to ensure equity and opportunity for every student, every step of the way.  And we are falling short. The events of the last several weeks, and long before, highlight how much work we have to do and how much learning we have yet to make. The anger, pain and disappointment across the state and country reflect the needs that we have seen for years in our outcome data, and it calls us to do better and more.

In Colorado, we have not yet provided adequate opportunity and access for students from a number of historically underserved backgrounds ─ specifically those from economically challenged communities, highly mobile families, racial minority groups, English Learners and students with disabilities ─ to meet their academic potential and gain the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in today’s economy and thrive in our communities. We know education is a foundational right and one that is a vehicle to a more fair, just and prosperous life. We must do more to concentrate on equity as a foundational construct of our work at CDE; we must do better to empower schools and districts in their efforts to increase access and opportunity and ultimately change the systemic structures leading to inequities in student success.  

While we don’t have all the answers to break these long-held barriers, and it will certainly not be easy, we are committed to learning more and advocating for change to create a more equitable school system where regardless of skin color, students have access to equal opportunities in their lives.