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These are the Colorado education stories we plan to cover this year — and how you can help

How’s the new school year treating you? We hope that you — or your children — are settling into your classrooms and getting some good routines going. Just as teachers and students set new goals each fall, we also take this opportunity to re-examine our priorities.

Here at Chalkbeat Colorado, we’re sharing these goals with you, our readers, because we want to be accountable to you and because we need your help to tell the best stories possible.

First of all, we want to make sure our work is connecting with the people who have the most at stake in the educational system: parents and students. We’re making a greater effort to include their voices in our coverage. We’re also holding a listening session on school choice in Denver Public Schools to better understand what parents want to know and how we might fill some of the gaps.

Got a question you’d like answered or a story we should cover? You can reach us at co.tips@chalkbeat.org. We’d love to hear from you.

Know parents who would like to get education news in Spanish? They can sign up for our Spanish-language email newsletter here.

There are also key storylines we’ll be paying special attention to this year.

Denver Public Schools at a crossroads

Denver Public Schools, long a national model for a certain brand of education reform, has a critical board election this fall that could shift the district’s trajectory. Chalkbeat has been on top of the race from the start, charting how the momentum from the teacher strike might play into the election, giving readers insight into the candidates, and following the money. We’ll continue to provide in-depth coverage of the issues that matter most in this election.

We’ll also look at what’s changing under Superintendent Susana Cordova, who has pledged to lift the achievement of students of color, and we’ll be digging deeper into how the district serves its most vulnerable students.

Melanie Asmar covers the Denver district for Chalkbeat. You can reach her here.

A Colorado school district under private management

The Adams 14 district based in Commerce City has become a first in Colorado: On state orders, it’s handed over most daily operations to a private company. We’ll continue our award-winning coverage of the district, and see whether the for-profit firm MGT can do what previous school administrators could not, how the needs of English language learners will be served, and how this changes the experience of students and teachers.

Yesenia Robles covers suburban districts serving large numbers of students in poverty, including Aurora, Adams 14, Westminster, and Sheridan. You can reach her here.

What happens to Colorado’s youngest learners

For the first time, Colorado schools have the same funding for kindergarten students as for their older learners, and districts across the state are expanding their full-day kindergarten programs. Attention now turns to expanding preschool access around the state. This will take a lot more money in a state where education funding is a persistent challenge — but it will also require attracting a lot more teachers to child care centers, where the work is challenging and the wages are low.

We’ll be checking in on full-day kindergarten programs and covering efforts to expand early childhood education and grow the early childhood workforce.

Ann Schimke covers early childhood issues. You can reach her here.

And you can keep up with early childhood news from around the nation in our monthly email newsletter, The Starting Line.

How Colorado serves its most vulnerable students

You can’t talk about educational outcomes in Colorado — or really anywhere in the United States — without talking about huge disparities in discipline, test scores, and graduation rates between students of color and their white peers, between students living in poverty and those who have all their needs met, between those learning English and those who are already proficient, between those with disabilities and those without.

This year the Colorado bureau will be looking harder at how schools serve these students, particularly English language learners and those with disabilities. In addition to highlighting problems that need addressing, we also want to look at the schools and districts making a real difference for these students.

Educating the whole child

Whenever we talk to teachers, they cry out for more resources to address students’ social and emotional needs. We know more now about how trauma and challenges outside the classroom affect students inside the classroom, and policymakers and philanthropists are paying attention. But this work also raises questions about the proper role of schools and the best use of resources.

We’ll be highlighting disparities and success stories from schools that have invested in students’ social and emotional health.

We couldn’t do what we do without the help of our readers, who are also sources. Please reach out to us with story ideas, additional context, critiques, and even praise. And please let your friends who care about education know about Chalkbeat.

You can find us at co.tips@chalkbeat.org, on Facebook and Twitter, and via our daily email newsletter, Rise & Shine.