This graduation season was an important one for me. Outsiders like myself have spent a lot of time thinking about education and specifically, the way …
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This graduation season was an important one for me.
Outsiders like myself have spent a lot of time thinking about
education and specifically, the way it is and will be funded.
It always has been something of a political issue even when the
state seems relatively flush with cash. In the this economic
climate where all budgets that depend heavily on the state
financing are seeing huge pay cuts, the political aspects of school
finance get even tougher.
I tend to side with public schools much more often than not, but
even I have been critical of Douglas County School district’s
decision to charge for bussing knowing full well that there are no
easy decisions to make when it comes to fixing budget
But last week, I, along with my staff and many parents and
friends of graduates got to see a much more pleasant side of the
I went to two graduations at Red Rocks, one for Mountain Vista
and the other for Highlands Ranch High School.
At both, I was struck by the genuine bond principals, teachers
and other staff had with the students graduating that day.
There were the obligatory speeches outlined in the programs, but
there was nothing obligatory about the words. There were some good
inside jokes, some words of wisdom and a lot of pride.
And it wasn’t all for show. While I wasn’t shooting photos, I
was standing off to the side of the stage so as not to block
anyone’s view. There, teachers and other staff, including school
resource officers from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, stood
watching and listening and guiding graduates to and from the
I saw more high-fives, hugs and handshakes there than I did on
It was a glimpse into the personal relationships and bonds of
respect that go into educating kids that sometimes gets forgotten
in political debates.
Are there things that need to be fixed with the way public
education is funded, run, etc.? Certainly. I doubt anyone thinks
the system can’t be tweaked even if they can’t agree about how to
But is there a lot of good work going on? You bet. Chief among
them is that kids are surrounded by a lot of people personally
invested in their education.
With that as the starting point, it’s hard to imagine that
solutions to the other problems can’t be found.
Jeremy Bangs is the managing editor of Colorado Community
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