Paula Believes in Neighborhood Schools
One of my students, a ninth-grader, got her father out of bed every morning after he had spent the previous night drinking. He was sluggish, hard to wake, and even harder to get on his feet. But if he didn’t get out of bed, take a shower, get dressed, and go to work, he and his daughter would be evicted. She made sure he had done all of these before she bolted out the front door and raced to get to her first class at 7:30 a.m. Fortunately, the school wasn’t far, and she usually made it on time. Another student’s single mom worked the night shift, not returning home until 8:00 a.m. The student was 17, and she cared for her younger siblings until Mom got home. She had no car, but she was able to walk to school in time for second hour, so her counselor always scheduled her with first hour off. Every opportunity these girls will have in life has depended upon a solid start in their neighborhood schools.
I spent 20 of my 30 years as a Jeffco teacher in an alternative program (ACE) embedded in a neighborhood school, so I know that one size does not fit all. A strong neighborhood school, one with options ranging from at-risk intervention to advanced placement classes, is a lifeline for students and their families. We have a responsibility to care for this important aspect of our communities. I will advocate for neighborhood schools getting the resources they need to serve all the students and families in their communities.