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!

 

Spirit Day & #WhenIBegan


Spirit Day is an annual celebration organized by GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (though in reality, they are so much more), as a day of solidarity against bullying and bigotry, and particularly for LGBTQ+ folks.

From GLAAD’s #SpiritDay launch page:

“Spirit Day is a means of speaking out against LGBTQ bullying and standing with LGBTQ youth, who disproportionately face bullying and harassment because of their identities. Pledging to “go purple” on Spirit Day is a way for everyone — forward-thinking companies, global leaders, respected celebrities, neighbors, parents, classmates, and friends — to visibly show solidarity with LGBTQ youth and to take part in the largest, most visible anti-bullying campaign in the world.”


From Cameron, Founder of Collage Colorado, LLC
Originally Published on Facebook October, 2014

I tell this story today in honor of #spiritday, a campaign against bullying. I’ve told this story in confidence to a small number of people in my life, but today for the first time I am going to share it publicly. I won’t name names. I don’t want pity. I made my peace with this event years ago.

TRIGGER WARNING: LGBT bullying, sexism, misogyny, physical assault, and some language. I want to warn you now that what I am about to describe is not pretty, and I will not censor it; that may be triggering for some, and if it is, I fully understand if you don’t keep reading.

All of my life I’ve been a small guy. Heck, I’m 5’5” NOW (and I ain’t growin’ any taller, let me assure you). In high school, I wasn’t just short, I was also pretty meek. I read a lot, raised my hand in class all the time, and spent as much time talking to teachers as I did talking to peers. I was a nerd.

I don’t know when he first targeted me. He was an upperclassman, a year or so ahead of me. At some point he decided I was gonna be his proverbial punching bag. I don’t know why. I don’t care. All I know is that we had Spanish together for a year, and sometime during that year he decided that I was the kid who was going to take his assaults.

At first, it was all verbal. Every day, he would find some reason to call me “gay” or “fag” or “queer”. I didn’t know how to respond. Once or twice maybe I told him to “f*** off”, but guaranteed that didn’t change a thing. The teacher apparently didn’t know how to respond either. If she overheard him calling me something, she’d meekly reprimand him, but that’s about it. It hurt me a lot (and yes, I am gay, I am queer, but that’s beside the point). I don’t know if I cried. I do know that at the time, it made me hate myself, and it made me hate going to class. But I had no choice. I wanted to go to college. I lived in a tiny little town, part of a regional district that took three whole towns to make one high school. My parents couldn’t afford private school. I had no options, I had to stay.

If it had stayed verbal, I probably could have dealt with the assaults. It didn’t. One day I came to class; like any other day I hiked the stairs of the old school, and got to class a little early (I never used my locker… I don’t even remember where it was, but it would have been a joke trying to get to it and then to class without being chewed out for being late). That day, the teacher wasn’t there yet, but he was, as well as most of the class. I think he was waiting for me. I got to the door and he was standing there in the frame. He wouldn’t let me in. I tried to push past him, but he was a good deal bigger than me. I got frustrated, and was about to walk away when he pulled the pointer out.

It was one of those old, three-and-a-half foot long wooden pointers with a bullet-shaped rubber tip, and a short nail in the back end to hang it on the wall, near the chalkboard. He scratched my arm with it. I was horrified. I didn’t know what to do. He scratched again, on my other arm. And again. I started to walk away… I don’t know where I thought I was going, but I sure as heck wasn’t going to stand there. When I turned around to leave, he scratched me, HARD, on the back of my neck. I was trying to walk away down the hall when the teacher walked up. She didn’t notice the scratches. I tried to tell her what happened, but she was flustered, and told me to go in and sit down. I did.

After Spanish class, I had lunch. There, my friends noticed the scratches, which were bleeding and swollen. I explained what happened. They told me to go to the nurse… I resisted a bit, but finally agreed and asked some teacher for permission to leave. The nurse was shocked. She put Neosporin on the cuts. She told me she had to tell the principal. I begged her not to; I was so scared. I went back to lunch, and then to my next class. Sometime during that class, I was called to the vice-rincipal’s office. I explained what happened. The vice-principal asked if I wanted to do anything about it. I said yes. His response? If I wanted him to do anything about it, I would have to sit and tell my “side” with the other kid there, next to me. I refused… I was so scared. He said if that was the case, there was nothing he could do. I left. I cried in my next class. Quietly.

When I got home, my parents noticed the cuts. They were really obvious. I told them what happened; my dad was furious. I’ve maybe never seen him so angry. He went into the other room and called the school. I remember him shouting really loudly. He told me when he came back that they’d promised to suspend the other kid. I didn’t feel much better. A little bit, maybe.

The next day, I went to school. The guy who’d cut me was there, too. In Spanish. Walking the halls. The next day, too. And the next. I don’t know who told me, but I asked someone (a teacher, maybe) what was going on. They told me his mom was on the school board, and that she had insisted there was “no way he could have done such a thing!” He was never suspended. He was never punished. I had physical scars for a year. I hated that guy for longer… more years than I’m proud to admit. I wanted some sort of retribution. At some point I let it go, but it tainted – it scarred – a part of my soul for a long time.

Please never take bullying lightly. I recovered. My scars healed, but so often, and for so many, they never do. So many beautiful lives are lost each year to the trauma of bullying. Please, no more. Never again.


#WhenIBegan

If you read all the way through our first-ever Revolutionary Read of the Month post a few days ago, or you’ve been looking around the site recently, you probably saw this mentioned. #WhenIBegan is a hashtag campaign that we’re starting at Collage Colorado… and it needs your help! If you haven’t already, check out the #WhenIBegan hashtag campaign page!

Watch the intro video below!

We’re Going Purple for Spirit Day!

Thursday, October 18th is Spirit Day this year, GLAAD’s day of solidarity against LGBTQ+ bullying, and to show our support we’re making our logo purple across the interwebs for the week, and we’d love to see you do the same! Join us in standing up for LGBTQ youth, and make your social media profiles purple, too.

Also, keep an eye out for a special Spirit Day article later this week!

The Shop is Officially Open!

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Although our shop is not Collage’s primary focus, it is an important part of the work that we do; sales from our shop fund the classes and enrichment programs that we run in Denver Public Schools. Thank you so much for your interest in our work!