A strong and vibrant city requires strong and vibrant schools. Leslie will focus on facilitating, and being part of, a dialogue and relationship that includes DPS, the mayor’s office, community leaders, teachers, parents, and students. Denver can do better at putting students first and the mayor’s office can help lead the conversation. Leslie has a proven track record of bringing diverse stakeholders to the table to get real results on complex issues, and she will bring that same focus to helping to ensure that our city’s schools are focused on what’s best for our city’s children.
Leslie will prioritize intentional and innovative partnerships with DPS to ensure that we are moving forward together, equitably, for the children and families in Denver. DPS and the city have a multitude of options to share resources. DPS can open up playgrounds and fields for afterschool and summer activities and our rec centers can be used for DPS after school programming. We can partner with businesses to provide after school and summer jobs for older kids. And for younger kids, we can ensure that there are affordable and accessible after school programs to help children of working parents. We can also re-purpose underutilized spaces to serve as care hubs that concentrate strengths to meet the needs of kids and families across the city. Leslie will direct the Office of Children’s Affairs to lead an updated visioning dialogue across the city so that we can co-create the future that we want for our children in the next decades. Denver can become a global model for designed interdependence among individuals and agencies to ensure a great education, equitable support, and expanded opportunities for all children.
Additionally, Leslie will revive the Denver Education Compact which brings together the Mayor’s office, Denver Public Schools, DCTA, education nonprofits, and the business community to set district wide goals and determine how we can all play our part to achieve them. Together, we can make Denver Public Schools the best urban school district in the nation.
Denver Public Schools is not adequately supporting academic achievement among students of color or those who are low-income. We can do better at making DPS work for our students of color, and equity is of utmost importance to Leslie --personally and as mayor. Denver’s next mayor can begin to address the equity gap among student groups by focusing on the root causes of these disparities. We know that the root causes that impact education disparities include financial inequalities, housing affordability, and healthcare accessibility. We must tackle the city’s interconnected challenges to do better for the future of our city.
Additionally, the mayor’s office has a powerful voice, even where there is no formal authority, to draw attention to failures in our school systems and put pressure on the school board and superintendent to do better. Leslie will use the position of mayor to help ensure that DPS is doing right by all of our city’s children.
Many of Denver’s toughest challenges are interconnected, and education is a critical component to ensuring young people have an opportunity for success. Schools have become the home of wrap around services for our children and families. Thanks to partnerships with Denver Health and the business community, there are free clinics and grocery stores available for our communities. But, we need to proactively invest in the lives of our youth to increase the number of children living at promise, not at risk.
Leslie will work with DPS and other partners to expand resources and services for children and their families to ensure no kid in our schools is unhoused or hungry. Further, she will ensure these families are connected to city programs- both existing and new ones we will build with DPS and parents. We will co-locate city caseworkers in schools with the highest need. We can also expand the My Denver Card program, ensure free transportation and free access to cultural institutions for young Denverites, and focus on mentoring opportunities for every young person in the city.
Safe, healthy, accessible, affordable housing is a human right, yet a home has become a luxury many in Denver cannot afford. We need diverse housing options to reduce costs while ensuring people can afford to live in the neighborhood they grew up in. Last year, Leslie led the creation of the Colorado Middle Income Housing Authority that will deliver thousands of attainable housing units for families. As Mayor, she will fight for resources to create truly affordable housing and end chronic homelessness; zoning reforms to prioritize fair housing; protections to stabilize tenants; and ways to expand permanent affordability. Leslie will work with DPS to build affordable and middle-income housing on DPS-owned land so that educators can live in Denver and families can stay here.
We have a moral obligation, as a society, to look out for our youth. In a time when there are a record number of weapons found in Denver Public Schools, Leslie believes curbing youth violence is fundamental to the safety and wellness of our city. Creating opportunities and investing in our youth is fundamental to the safety and wellness of Denver--and it is what a caring community does. We must focus on youth violence prevention by creating collaborations between the city and business community to get kids summer jobs and internships, and double the number of after-school programs for kids. At the same time, we need to prioritize restorative justice for youth to end the school to prison pipeline. We can and will do better for our youth, because they are the future.
The time to take action on gun violence is now, and common sense gun safety measures are far overdue. Our schools are no longer a safe haven for learning, and while we’re capable of making real progress, we haven’t been bold enough to take action. Leslie will put people over politics and deliver results. In order to curb growing gun violence, we must work together to identify the root causes. Housing, access to food, and safe places for our youth are just a few basic necessities that our kids need to get on the right path. With Leslie as Mayor, the city will proactively invest in proven interventions to serve children and families and aid in violence prevention.
Denver Public Schools has many committed and talented teachers and education support professionals who have dedicated their career towards educating and shaping the next generation of Denverites. Many of the challenges facing Denver schools revolve around equity and funding, and the current lack of leadership exacerbates these issues. Bringing people to the table and delivering results is what Leslie does. As Mayor, she will use her position to advocate for policies that increase trust in DPS and build bridges between the City and the school district, while ensuring that every child in our city has access to a great public education.
If we don’t have a strong education system we don’t have a strong city. We need to ensure that our schools are serving our city’s children and parents in the best way possible. Denver students, teachers, and families deserve an education system that works for them and provides the support they need to succeed and thrive. Our schools are facing upheaval and uncertainty, and we need strong leadership to bring people together to best serve our kids. Leslie has a proven track record of putting people over politics to get results, and she will prioritize collaboration and community involvement to move our schools forward.