Education was the focus as the Colorado Springs Diversity Forum held one of its “Food for Thought” evenings Monday around a presentation from I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS.
I-News opened the evening with a screening of the Losing Ground project video, which shows that Colorado’s minority residents are falling farther behind their white counterparts in important measures of social progress, including college and high school education rates, family income, poverty and home ownership. I-News analyzed six decades of data from the U.S. Census Bureau in publishing the Losing Ground series in January.
The study disclosed that Colorado fell from 24th to 40th among the states in funding K-12 education between 1992 and 2010. A separate report by the State Higher Education Executive Association found only New Hampshire and Vermont spent less per full-time college student than Colorado’s $3,316. A Food for Thought panel of El Paso County educators discussed solutions for inequities in education before the capacity crowd at East Library broke into smaller groups to address the issues.
Against the backdrop of diminished funding, poverty and fractured families, proposed solutions to classroom disparities were greater community involvement in mentoring and tutoring, increased diversity among teachers to better reflect students, culturally relevant classroom materials, greater school outreach to families, and adherence by all to clearly-defined standards. Several speakers said both families and the community at large need to take greater responsibility.
The findings by I-News in Losing Ground do not bode well, most experts believe, for the future of a state in which minorities could constitute the majority of the workforce within two generations.