Integrated schools at the core of DSST Public Schools
In the Feb. 1 article, “Local Schools Leading the Way in Integration,” we were satisfied to read about new efforts in the Greater Park Hill and Stapleton communities to push for more integrated schools. As educators, we’re encouraged that our colleagues understand the moral imperative of serving students from all backgrounds.
However, as leaders of schools that were founded on educational equity for all, we were disappointed by the failure of the article to mention schools that have been doing this work for years and achieving outstanding results. Our DSST: Conservatory Green and DSST: Stapleton campuses proudly serve diverse student populations, both in terms of race and socioeconomic backgrounds. Since our founding in 2004, we have committed to serve as many free and reduced lunch (FRL) students as non-FRL students. In a district where almost 70% of the student population is considered FRL, this is the only thing that makes sense. We purposefully create equal opportunities, with a floor of 50% of our seats reserved for students who qualify for FRL.
Our Conservatory Green and Stapleton middle schools campuses, both comprising two-thirds FRL students, consistently rank among Denver’s top middle schools. And DSST: Stapleton High School is ranked as one of the top high schools in the state. Our FRL students (53%) scored an average of 1111 on the 2017 SAT, the highest average score in Colorado for that group. And our non-FRL students scored an average 1274. Both were well above the state average of 1014. We’re certain our new DSST: Conservatory Green High School will achieve similar results.
DSST actively works toward building school communities where every student develops a strong sense of self while also understanding and appreciating the community to which they belong. Students and staff gather every day for “Morning Meeting,” where they celebrate the campus community, participate in team-building activities, and support each other in a visible and vibrant ways. We also have students participate in Advisories, small-class gatherings where they closely interact and learn from their peers on a daily basis.
The result: High-performing schools where all students excel. DSST campuses are proof that integrated schools work. As School Directors, we applaud the neighborhood’s efforts to step up in this realm, and hope this will be only the beginning of not only serving a diverse student body but also ensuring an equitable and exceptional educational outcomes.
-John Clark, DSST: Conservatory Green Middle School
-Jeff Desserich, DSST: Stapleton High School
-Adeel Khan, DSST: Conservatory Green High School
-Dan Sullivan, DSST: Stapleton Middle School
Ensure all points of view on Stapleton name change
I am concerned that the decision on eliminating the Stapleton name from our community is being controlled by a very small group of individuals, including many who don’t reside in Stapleton. A survey by the Stapleton United Neighbors revealed that two-thirds of respondents did not want a name change. Yet this small, vocal group continues to insist that our community bend to their will.
One of my concerns is the clouding of the issue with information that really has no place in a discussion which should be fact based. An example from the recently held Listening Session:
A woman said she was frightened while walking in Stapleton because someone was walking behind her on the same sidewalk – Perhaps his house was in that direction. Her fear is an example of the frenzy that opponents of the Stapleton name have whipped up and really has nothing to do with the name of our community. If she only feels safe if no one is walking on the same sidewalk, she is never going to be able to leave her house.
So many of the arguments for the name change focus on nebulous, vague claims that the change will foster more positive attitudes about inclusion and diversity. There are just a few, fact-based statements that should be considered:
- Stapleton joined the KKK when he was a young man.
- That KKK membership probably got him votes when he ran for the mayor’s office
- After winning the election, Stapleton renounced the KKK and fired the KKK associated head of the police department.
- The KKK, in turn, renounced Stapleton and that probably cost him some votes in the next election
Those are the facts and we are left with one question: Does Stapleton deserve credit for changing his mind and leaving the KKK or is there no redemption for having once belonged to the group. All the other arguments are merely a distraction from the key points of the discussion. All major religions honor redemption, so it seems that concept should be part of this discussion
Justice Hugo Black, who also belonged to the KKK when he was younger, later renounced it and became a civil rights champion as a judge and Supreme Court Justice. He is credited with playing a vital role in passing civil rights legislation that did so much to move our nation away from bigotry. It seems that, if we are going to forgive Justice Black for his youthful mistake and honor him for changing, then Stapleton also deserves credit for his redemption. Respecting Stapleton for changing his mind is a positive example for all our children—that people can and do change and become a better person.