Community Vision for Education of Children
Antwan Jefferson, PhD
This is the Denver Journal of Education and Community (DJEC). Welcome to the first issue.
DJEC is a community-sourced education publication that reflects the viewpoints of a wide range of perspectives throughout the Denver-metro area. We hope that the Journal becomes a reliable and valuable addition to the area’s education landscape, bringing to the fore the diverse voices of residents of the metro area’s cities and counties. We rely on stories and experiences to understand and represent the texture and diverse views of public education as a public concern.
Despite our publication style, we do not rely on established traditions of journalism and reporting, nor do we employ existing modes of education research to produce this journal. Those are being done in the area already, by high-quality and reliable resources for education thinking throughout the area. What we hope to offer is an additional layer of thought and experience in public education in the metropolitan community. And for this, we rely on a form of community-sourced knowledge that is made when people are in dialogue with one another: neighbors, coworkers, strangers, friends.
Throughout this first issue, you will read the word “community” many times. And it means different things for each of the writers contributing to this issue. It also was used in many different ways in each
of the conversations that took place.
This type of variation underlies what this journal is about. We do not all have the same experiences, we do not all see the same things, and we do not all want the same things. Nonetheless, we depend upon the system of public education to give our children the experiences they need, and the knowledge they need, to become
citizens engaged in our society, and to
help move our society forward.
While our views of community, and our beliefs about public schooling may be wildly different, what we have in common is connection to the Denver metro area. In the view of DJEC, this shared connection is enough for us to explore our differences, find what we have in common, and avoid allowing our differences to be the basis for our separation. In many contexts, including public education, one approach to this difference is to find a common thread and to rely on this common thread for decision-making. Using well-established principles of democracy, this means following the majority view. This, however, can cause really unintended consequences, such as in overlooking or erasing what makes us, and our experiences, unique. All of our views matter, and DJEC is committed to welcoming and sitting-with these differences in hopes that we can closely examine the education of our children and support innovation and improvement; ahem, community-sourced innovation and improvement.
For sure, we won’t get it right. We are not trying to get anything right, except in representing the multiple and varied views of parents, students, elders, organizers, educators, concerned citizens, artists, and the range of people who make our city and region unique. In many ways, the focus on getting things right has kept us from seeing and valuing the true resource of different perspectives. This is what we aim to do at DJEC: open our minds and ears and eyes and hearts to more of us, and to learn from our neighbors, regardless of their status, profession, qualifications, or political leanings.
About the Issue
The theme of our first issue is Vision; not DJEC’s vision for education in Denver. Remember, we are a community-sourced education journal.
In this first issue, you will find an opening long-form journal article that captures a set of complex and varying discussions that occurred in Denver and Aurora between May and August 2019. These conversations occurred in recreation centers, homes, and law offices, involving former and current students, family members, educators, and other members of the area’s broad and various communities. Each conversation was different and produced different outcomes. The one feature that each conversation had in common was a central question, which informs the theme of this issue: What is the vision of the community for the education of children? That, and being audio recorded. This is how we cultivate the content for this and future issues of DJEC.
You also will find four responses to this long-form article. Each contributing writer (a high school student, an educator, an education scholar, and an individual community member) offers their own perspective on the ideas in the long-form article, offering a glimpse into some of the different ways that each of us may see the same phenomenon from our own angles. This, for sure, is what DJEC is about.
As you read this, we’re working on sourcing our next issue; you are more than welcome to join us. At the end of this issue, we describe a few ways you can.
A Note About the Future
This first issue is written in English, offered in print form. We have set priorities to make the Journal as accessible as possible, including translating it into other languages and in offering it on a digital platform. This, too, is what DJEC is about.