Parents and teachers protest to reinstate recess, bilingual education

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Parents and teachers in the Adams 14 school district are demanding changes ahead of next school year.

Monday afternoon a few dozen parents, students and teachers lined the sidewalk outside Adams City High School to protest. This is a different issue than the teacher walkouts and protests at the Capitol over the past few weeks.

“They’re two totally different things. That was about the state this is about Adams 14,” middle school teacher Barb McDowell told FOX31. “This is about recess. It is about calendar and schedules. It is about the social emotion supports for our kids. And it’s about biliteracy for our K-12 students.”

Adams 14 is in a “turnaround” period with the state, meaning it needs to drastically improve school performance or the state will step in.

“We are committed to our children and to continuously improving our results. It’s not a choice; it is a legal requirement. This is what we owe our children,” Superintendent Dr. Javier Abrego said in a statement.

Parents and teachers believe the changes have not been productive or positive.

“This year they cut all recess to elementary schools. They’ve cut all parent teacher conferences,” parent Regina Hurtado said.

Many staff contracts were not renewed, teachers and parents say emotional and support counseling services for students were cut and so were bilingual education programs.

“Our high school students went up to three weeks without having a schedule. The theater was filled and the hallway was filled with kids who did not have classes,” McDowell said.

According to data provided by Adams 14, only 5.4% of high school freshman in the district are meeting the state’s educational standards.

When asked if the schools are providing a quality education, Hurtado said, “Absolutely not. My son is just about to graduate, and he is not prepared for college at this point at all.”

In response to the concerns, Superintendent Abrego wrote:

“Being on turnaround requires us to examine all aspects of our work; determine where our system isn’t producing the results we want, and change it. What we have done in our most recent past has not worked. Recent data makes this painfully clear. The reality, our children's reality, is that we continue to fail them.

'My leadership team and I are in an increasingly challenging position.  We’re intensely aware of our accountability to improve our children’s performance. We must balance that with effective operations. That means making changes; but we’ve seen that change has resulted in confusion, frustration, anger and fear.  I understand that.

'Change is painful and sometimes divisive, but change we must. How do we justify not changing while the results show we’re continuing to fail our students?  We can’t. As our Commitment to Children pledges, “when we discover a performance problem, we will make changes to get back on the right track so our students are successful.”

'For example, some say we do not support biliteracy.

'Not true. We are fully committed to biliteracy.  If someone tells you my team does not support biliteracy, they are incorrect. Three years ago, we contracted with the Bueno Center to implement its Literacy Squared biliteracy program because we thought it would greatly improve student performance as measured by the state.

'Unfortunately, our results show it has not improved our students’ performance to meet state’s expectations. Given the urgency for improvement in a short time, we must make changes quickly. That means we will conclude our contract with the Bueno Center and its Literacy Squared research project. Instead, we must provide the best program that lifts our students’ performance in their first language and English.”