OVERVIEW

Since its inception in 2018, the Denver Journal of Education and Community (DJEC; the Journal) has produced a community-based education publication that contributes to the metro Denver area education landscape. We try to discover and learn from the experiences of historically-marginalized persons and communities, and center their experiences in education in this region–these are the children and families that constitute the majority of districts like APS and DPS. This effort helps us to produce a high-quality publication in print and digital formats so that educators and at-large community members can have access to a resource that contributes these often-overlooked perspectives to Denver’s education landscape. Community-sourced content makes DJEC a unique voice in the region’s collection of education publications.

The DJEC Team hopes to expand our current work by taking on a role as a community-based hub for educational research and data. If we’re successful, this expansion will centralize school and district data, complementing academic outcome data with personal stories of people’s experiences with our region’s schools. Such an approach to knowledge construction and information sharing will help to maintain DJEC’s commitment to a balanced, non-partisan education storytelling by helping ensure that Denver area residents have access to a widened range of information about schools.


THE ROLE OF DATA IN DJEC

As a community-facing, community-informed publication, DJEC has fully developed its practices in areas of narrative community inquiry and employs qualitative research practices in the development of each issue. Our efforts have only marginally involved quantitative data collection and methods, though the contributions of this second line of work has the potential to broaden and deepen DJEC’s practices and platform (VINE), while contributing to the local education landscape.

We consider divergent views of the purpose of public schools another important factor informing the need for a new, reliable data source. An observation made by a team of researchers focused on the public good provided by public schools noted that the use of economic interests to represent school purpose and measurement leads to furthering the interests of wealthy white residents to the exclusion of low income families of color¹.

If school quality continues to be determined by indicators that reflect an economic concern of school², then what happens to children in schools, and the consequences of experience to their developing identities, is minimized, simultaneously marginalizing their families.


DJEC AS A DATA SOURCE 

Due to the rise of community-based responses to federal/state/local immigration policy and housing policies in several major cities of the US, we perceive that community-based research examining the interrelationships of education to space/place and diversity/equity is an important component of the quest for educational equity in cities like Denver. Supporting an educated and collaborative public, then, requires integrating the work of educators, activists, scholars, youth, foundations, and stakeholders across formal and informal mechanisms of collecting and sharing school-based data. In particular, community perspectives should be joined with strong research skills to create a data resource that represents the complex reality of public schooling in the Denver area, while making this reality accessible, clear, and reliable. 

To this end, as a collaborative team of planners, we envision a research agenda at the Denver Journal of Education and Community that represents the following 4 values: 

  1. School data should represent a balanced focus on academic and behavioral data, without treating these as more important than other forms of data that may be valuable to a wide range of audiences (leading with families and children).
  2. Useful information about schools should be reliable and accessible to a wide range of audiences, integrating qualitative (e.g., interviews, stories, etc.) and quantitative (e.g., state and district report) information to provide traditional and innovative data about schools to a wide range of families, educators, and young people.
  3. Data should be presented in short-cycle and cumulative/longitudinal forms, representing the results of school improvement efforts and the unique and valuable contributions of schools and communities that serve diverse children well. This means that sources of information should represent schools as well as the families and communities served.
  4. Data should not be used to embarrass, harass, penalize, or rank schools, districts, or educators. Instead, data should be a tool to support thoughtful decision-making by families while informing school and district innovation and improvement efforts.

DJEC IS A PROGRAM OF A NONPROFIT 501(c)3

Education & Community was born in 2019 because the Denver Public Schools needed to hear from the communities they serve, which are made up of 70 percent students of color. The main purpose is to debunk the notion that Black and Latino kids need to be bussed into and integrated into predominantly White schools in order to receive a quality education. The basis for the integration theory is the decision in the 1954 case of Brown vs. Board of Education by the Supreme Court which addressed desegregation and school integration.

The purpose of Education & Community is to support the involvement of individuals and organizations in public education policy, research, and practice. We will hear community perspectives about public education practices and policies. And then we will use that input to influence legislators, school board members, and education leaders in order to ensure that education decisions are informed by the communities that they are intended to serve.


¹ Bartlett, L., Frederick, M., Gulbrandsen, T., & Murillo, E. (2002). The marketization of education: Public schools for private ends. Anthropology & education quarterly, 33(1), 5-29.

² Zion, S., & Blanchett, W. J. (2017). On the purpose of schooling. The Wiley handbook of diversity in special education, 69-85.

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