Collage Colorado on the Denver Teacher Strike

Collage Colorado supports the DCTA/Denver Teachers’ Strike! As readers may know, negotiations between Denver teachers and the district regarding fair and adequate wages have reached an impasse. On Friday, January 25th, after 93% of DCTA members voted to authorize a strike, DPS Superintendent Susana Cordova petitioned the State of Colorado to block a strike for up to six months! This move would render a strike meaningless. Denver teachers responded by officially requesting that the State not step in, but we’re awaiting the decision.

We are… dedicated to an unshakeable belief that… financial burden should never be a barrier to quality education.

Although Collage is a private entity, and despite the fact that our classes are presently hosted at a DPS school, we stand with teachers. From our mission, “We are… dedicated to an unshakeable belief that… financial burden should never be a barrier to quality education.” That conviction goes in both directions; money should not be a factor for students or teachers! Teaching is a science and an art, and in the world today more (perhaps) than ever before, a quality education is a basic necessity for life. With it, anyone’s odds of livable pay, adequate health care, and a quality end of life go up tremendously. All that said, we may have to modify some plans depending on if the strike happens, as Collage will not cross picket lines.

We are encouraging all of our supporters to email DPS Superintendent Susana Cordova and tell her that you support Denver teachers, and believe they deserve a fair and living wage for their work.

La Frontera: Immigration and Education in Trump’s America

It’s cool outside, the leaves here in Denver, Colorado have all fallen, and kids are out of school on Thanksgiving Break. Given how cozy and quiet this season is supposed to be, it might seem like an odd time to talk about education, immigration, and human rights.

In fact, all three are tremendously important issues, and there isn’t any better time than now to talk about all three and how they intersect – not in spite of the holiday, but because of it. Let me explain.

A Little History

A lot could be said about the Thanksgiving Story, and a lot has over the years – most of it horribly untrue (warning – there is one bad word at the end of the video). The version of the story taught in schools for most parents today was at best horribly culturally insensitive; schools now do marginally better, though they often still gloss over the colonial overtones. Quaint or not, though, every version of the story has a few things in common: people whose lives were threatened in their homeland were forced to leave to find safety, and they arrived in a new place, only to discover that their new home wasn’t especially hospitable either.

Now, as we approach this Thanksgiving in the United States, another group of refugees is approaching the borders of this country. The difference, this time, is that these pilgrims are not colonizers seeking to take someone else’s home for their own, they are colleagues called by the promise of safety, opportunity, and the dignity of basic human rights – ostensibly the promise our nation makes to the world.

pilgrim noun
pil·​grim | \ˈpil-grəm \
Definition of pilgrim
1 : one who journeys in foreign lands : WAYFARER

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pilgrim 

Human Rights are for… Whom?

There are lots of things we could discuss when it comes to human rights – for example, what’s a right, and what’s a privilege? Does cultural heritage take priority over human rights? How do we protect them?

Nearly every nation in the world has some document that defines the rights that country protects within its borders. Similarly, the United Nations has a Universal Declaration of Human Rights as an outline for a basic quality of life and security for all people, that is theoretically supported by all the member nations. In reality, there are sometimes huge discrepancies between words and actions… and that leads us to the issue today.

human rights plural noun
\ˈhyü-mən \ˈrīts
Definition of human rights
: rights (such as freedom from unlawful imprisonment, torture, and execution) regarded as belonging fundamentally to all persons

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/human%20rights 

Education is a Right… Right?

One of the things we take for granted in this country is access to an education. In fact, education in the United States is compulsory, meaning that at least basic education is expected for everyone, and the legal systems here can take action to compel people to offer or receive it. Besides that, we argue about it, we spend more or less fantastical sums of money on it (mostly less, lately, but still – it’s a big industry)

Given all of that, one would assume that education was a basic human right in the United States… but it’s not!

It’s true… although education is essentially mandatory here in the USA, it is not protected in the US Bill of Rights or any other document here. And while education is the entire focus of Article 26 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as it stands the US has no intention of changing that. But education is protected here, and in fact, the United States protects education in a way many others do not: in the USA, education cannot be restricted based on immigration status.

asylee noun
asy·​lee | \ə-ˌsī-ˈlē \
plural asylees
Definition of asylee
law
: someone who is seeking asylum (see ASYLUM sense 3b) or who has been granted asylum

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/asylee 

Where Immigration and Education Meet: The Case of Plyler v. Doe

While the nation debates what other protections, services, and (upsettingly) consequences the caravans of asylees might face upon arrival, one issue that was settled long ago is that of all children among the caravans are entitled to an education once they are on US soil. How?

The Not-Quite-Right to education for all, regardless of immigration status, was established in the United States Supreme Court Case Plyler v. Doe. The case, originally brought by families in Texas whose undocumented children were being forced to attend schools other than their local public schools, and pay exorbitant and prohibitive tuition. The Supreme Court decided that this was unconstitutional, and in 1982 decided in favor of the plaintiffs (the person suing – in this case the parents). 

So, whatever Trump (or any administrations) thinks of those seeking life, safety, and security by making their pilgrimage to the United States, and whatever else happens, we owe the children coming here the sanctuary of school, not the fear of imprisonment.

Happy Thanksgiving

All The Updates!

Our first ever Fall for All Sale! #FALL4ALL

Good Morning Collage Fam!

Last week may have seemed a little quiet around here, but behind the scenes, a lot was happening to gear up for this week and beyond! We can’t tell you all the details yet, but a few things to look out for this week include…

  • La Frontera: Immigration and Education in Trump’s America – Did you think education was a human right? In the USA it’s not, but it is protected. This Wednesday, find out how, and what that means for us as a country, in our special report about the complex intersection between immigration in the United States today, and the theoretical right to education.
  • Fall for All Sale – Who needs the stress of Black Friday or Cyber Monday? From Monday, November 19th to Tuesday, November 26th, type in the discount code FALL4ALL at checkout for $10 off any order of $40 or more! Head over to our Facebook shop and check it out. Cheers!
  • Early Registration for Collage @ Odyssey Spring Session – Collage @ Odyssey’s Fall 2018 course is close to wrapping up, and winter break is fast approaching, and that means that it’s almost time to start registering for the Spring! More details will be posted soon, but if you’re a Denver-area parent, you can take a look at our course overview in the meantime.
  • Big Black Friday Reveal – We can’t say any more that that right now, but suffice it to say, there’s something big coming at the end of the week. Stay tuned!
  • Much, Much More!

We can’t wait to share all the things with you; keep an eye out here and on our social media as the week progresses!

 

Parents: We MUST Teach Our Kids To VOTE

Election Day

Tomorrow is Election Day here in the US, and that means many people will be taking time out of their day to go and vote, if they haven’t already. Depending on where you live, that may mean going to a polling place to stand in line, use some machine or other, and cast a ballot; it might mean driving a mail-in ballot to some official collection spot; or else perhaps checking an app for the status of the absentee or mail-in ballot you sent back days or weeks before.

No matter how it looks or who you vote for though, the important thing is to do it, though sadly lots of people don’t, and while understand the frustration some feel in the process, the fact that it can be obtuse at times, or the persistent fears that our votes may not count or be counted for one reason or another, we maintain that it is incredibly important to go out and vote… and especially if you’re a parent, to involve your kids.

Why?

For Our Kids’ Future

The first and most important reason to vote as a parent is for the sake of your children, and specifically their future. Bear with us – we understand this sounds very crunchy – but the reality is that whether or not you feel that the elections will have a direct impact on your life, it is certain that the choices made each election will have an impact on theirs. Without digging into the specific politics and policies, it’s a safe bet that each election season, there are some mix of candidates and ballot measures that will impact you children’s schools, parks, play spaces, and beyond for years to come.

Perhaps school funding is on the table, as in many places here in Colorado. Maybe there’s a candidate who is dedicated to making more green spaces for kids to play, or expanding access to school lunches, or improving teachers’ pay. All of these things impact our children tremendously, and us as well.

Modeling Skills

Another big reason to involve your children in your voting process is to model skills. Even if you largely vote a straight ticket (all for one party or another), there’s a process that you follow to make your decisions, and to cast your ballot. So, this comes in two parts: first, modeling your decision-making process (which could include research, conversations, or even family traditions), and second, modeling the process you use to actually cast your ballot, once your decisions are made.

Modeling research skills is of course important because our children are doing just that every day in school. Demonstrating that research happens at home, too – that it’s applicable in everyday life – lets our kids know that it’s a transferable skill, something that, if developed, they can take with them as part of their learning toolkit for the rest of their life.

Modeling the process is equally important: voting, though not perfect and not quite universal, is an integral part of the function of groups, communities, and nations across the planet. Moreover, by demonstrating the process to our children (who we already know are sponges for everything we say and do as parents), we normalize the practice, and so make it less intimidating for our kids, when the chance arises for them.

It’s (Probably) Not Taught In School

Many parents, even younger ones, still remember some version of Social Studies or Government classes from our time growing up, and those classes almost invariably encompassed some broad concepts of the functions and processes of government, or “civics”. Essentially, for better or worse, voting used to be taught in school, but that is largely no longer the case. Much as with “Sex Ed”, art, and music, civics is (ahem, strangely) considered to be too controversial a topic for schools to be able to “properly” handle it, and so it has been pushed further and further to the wayside.

Whether you feel this is a problem or not, the result is the same: your children will almost certainly not learn about the process unless you teach them. If you care that your children become voters as adults, the best way to ensure it is to model it.

Voting Matters

Although you may have thoughts about our politics here at Collage, we care more that you vote than for whom or what you cast your ballot, because at the end of the day, voting makes a difference. For better or worse, in large ways or small, our system of government allows us to have a say in the direction that we move as a society. It is a tremendous and unprecedented amount of power in the grand arc of history, and something for which so many of our ancestors fought and sacrificed dearly.

As such, our votes and our actions around the process are the greatest legacy we leave our children, collectively. Let us leave one we can be proud of.

Further Resources

There are lots of wonderful resources available to help inform your voting process. We would love to cover more, and we may in the future, but for today we would like to recommend Ballotpedia, a fantastic site that gives clear and comprehensive breakdowns of virtually every ballot in the country, in a nonpartisan format.