What’s Needed… and What’s Next

April 29, 2020

By Rebecca Holmes, CEI President and CEO

This has been a tough, turbulent, and challenging month for communities in Colorado. It’s been inspiring to see Coloradans across our state work together to solve the urgent challenges related to this pandemic and the dramatic changes it’s brought to our school systems. The team at CEI has so much gratitude and admiration for the way Colorado practitioners have approached this complex moment.  We’ve watched educators across the state take heroic action.

Since the start of the pandemic and the announcement of brick and mortar school closings, CEI has been working directly with the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) to understand what the real needs are in the field. Too often in education we leap to action before we understand the needs of our communities and stakeholders. Together, with CDE and with many of you, we conducted a statewide needs inventory. This inventory rapidly served as a focused guide for state policymakers, community education organizations, funders, and districts themselves as they have grappled with what they are going through. Read more about the needs assessment in this month’s newsletter.

Moving forward in this moment requires that we hold and manage contradicting truths about learning and school. First, this is disrupting so much of what we know about education and there is real opportunity to learn and emerge changed for the better. Meanwhile, so much of what we know works still matters. Across Colorado, we are being reminded of the many roles schools play in the fabric of our lives and as engines of our communities. We’re also being reminded – and the needs assessment confirms – that relationships matter. They matter for young people, who now log in to see the teacher they know understands them; for educators, who now lean on peers to learn new ways of engaging young people in rigorous learning; for leaders, who must look to each other to lead through something that has no playbook. Lastly, we must have grace for each other and a commitment to learning together. No one is getting this perfect, and perfection can’t be our goal. But if we anchor in our shared values to build systems where every kid can thrive, we will not only find our way through this challenging time, but come out of it with new designs for how teach and learn together.