A Year of Listening & Acting

December 14, 2020

By Rebecca Holmes, CEI President and CEO

As we close this year, there are reminders everywhere that the pandemic is not yet over. However, Governor Polis described the arrival of the first vaccine doses this week as “the beginning of the end.” Similarly, in schools and districts across the state, leaders are beginning to find enough reprieve – and the necessity – to begin to think about what comes next in education.  After enormous disruption, we are beginning to have clarity on the issues that will require focused educational recovery efforts. 

This past week, we released our second needs inventory that is asking us to listen again to the field and begin to identify patterns. Commissioner Anthes has recently described the pandemic as having turned the gaps in our educational system into chasms, and bringing that equity lens to the needs inventory is critical. The data shows that we should all be very concerned about early learning loss, high school engagement, and the mental health/social emotional development of educators and students. Without action, it’s likely we will see significant effects well into the next decade. Will we act? Of course, educators will do all they can. But we see this as a time for more concerted efforts and for the kind of system-level change that creates more enabling conditions around those educators and families.  

My experience at CEI has taught me that everywhere in our state there are education leaders willing to act to ensure what is possible for students and families. So much of 2020 has been about listening to these incredible leaders and then marshaling the resources necessary for action. We are all exhausted from this year, and yet I expect 2021 will require even more from us all on behalf of the kids who’ve lost the most this year. I hope you all can take a much-needed break and then we can return in 2021 ready to listen and act upon what the year asks of us. And, for those of you supporting families at a time when even the holiday break feels challenging, click here for my thoughts on how to approach the next two weeks.