Denver Schools Face Tough Challenges Ahead

Denver Schools Struggle with Declining Enrollment 
“May you live in interesting times,” goes the ancient Chinese curse.  These are “interesting” times indeed at Denver schools.  The district is grappling with declining enrollment figures and the decreased funding that issue brings about.  The reasons for the drop in numbers are not hard to fathom.  Although there are exceptions to the rule, by and large the reputation of Denver public schools has taken a beating and a pretty rough one at that.  The figures speak eloquently for themselves.
 
·         Denver schools have a graduation rate of barely 76 per cent.
·         The rate of proficiency in grades 3 through 10 were barely 46 per cent in math, 36 per cent in writing and 52 per cent in reading.
 
These dismal figures have not come about overnight.  Rather they have been the product of a series of miscalculated, half hearted and antiquated reform efforts by Denver schools that have left the system almost in shambles. 
 
The Effect of Denver Demographics on its Schools  
The demographics of Denver schools have played a part too.  It’s no secret that most of the students getting left behind in Denver schools are African Americans, Hispanics and a few other low income groups.  Denver schools have a disproportionate number of students who are illegal aliens as compared to neighboring districts.  According to some reports, close to 30,000 illegal aliens attend Denver public schools.  Most of these students have problems communicating in English which makes Denver schools a veritable Tower of Babel with over 40 different languages being spoken on campus. 
 
Another problem is that teachers unable to handle the infighting in classrooms and the resulting chaos apply for transfers out of Denver schools at alarming rates.  It’s believed that one in five teachers in Denver schools asks for a transfer out of the school at the end of the school term.  This instability has had a deteriorating effect on the quality of the schools and is reflected in falling grades.  Those lucky enough to be able to are pulling their children out of Denver schools to transfer them to better schools in neighboring districts.
 
Neighboring School Districts Chip away at Denver’s Best and Brightest 
In the city’s south western neighborhoods, Denver schools are fighting a losing battle with neighboring school districts that are drawing away hundreds of Denver’s best students every year.  Parents in these areas have a plethora of choices in Jefferson County and Littleton school districts; and more often than not these school choices come with an “excellent” or “high” rating.  In contrast, the rating for many Denver schools in the neighborhoods is “average” at best.
 
Parents obviously want their children to study at a school that has higher performance ratings, and so in a situation like this, there is really no choice for them to make.  This exodus to better neighboring school districts is hitting Denver schools particularly hard.  When students leave, they take with them necessary funding.  With such challenges facing the school district, it’s about time the authorities stepped up to the plate or we could see a repetition in Denver of what has been the state of many schools in poor performing districts around the country. 

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