Stuart Lord is the CEO of Delta Developmental, LLC, a Boulder-based company that advises businesses and other organizations on diversity, equity and inclusion. In 2009, he became Naropa University’s first Black president. He grew up in the foster care system in New Rochelle, New York.
According to a June 2023 presentation from district officials, Latino students and students who qualify for free and reduced lunch score lower than white students on literacy and math tests, reflecting a longstanding disparity in academic achievement. How would you seek to close this gap?
To bridge the persistent academic achievement gap, especially affecting Latino students and those eligible for free and reduced lunch, I propose the “Pathways to Success” program. This initiative offers a multifaceted approach:
- Academic Enhancement: During the school year, students will receive personalized academic support, including one-on-one tutoring, mentorship, and access to advanced coursework, ensuring readiness for academic success, regardless of their background.
- Internships: Over the summer, middle and high school students will engage in career-aligned internships. These hands-on experiences foster skill development, expose students to potential careers, and facilitate valuable networking opportunities.
- Community Engagement: The program prioritizes community service projects, instilling a sense of social responsibility and civic engagement. Active participation in the community fosters personal growth and empowerment.
- Stipends: To alleviate financial barriers, participants will receive stipends for their internship involvement and academic achievements, ensuring economic challenges do not hinder their success.
“Pathways to Success” employs a holistic approach, addressing academic, professional, and community development. By empowering our Latino and diverse students through this program, we aim to close the achievement gap, providing equal opportunities for academic and personal growth.
Overall, out-of-school suspensions declined during the 2022-23 school year, according to BVSD data. But Latino students were still about three times more likely to be suspended than white students. How would you help reduce disproportionate rates of student punishment in BVSD’s schools?
Addressing the disproportionate rates of student punishment in BVSD is a critical priority. While it’s positive that overall suspensions have decreased, the persistent disparity for Latino students demands immediate action. To tackle this issue, I propose a comprehensive approach.
Firstly, we need to conduct an in-depth analysis of the suspension data, identifying the root causes and patterns that lead to these disparities. This analysis will inform targeted interventions.
Secondly, we must invest in ongoing cultural competency training for all educators and staff to create a more inclusive and understanding school environment.
Thirdly, I advocate for implementing restorative justice programs and peer mediation to address behavioral issues constructively, emphasizing personal growth and conflict resolution over punitive measures.
Moreover, we should actively involve parents and the community in the development of disciplinary policies and practices, ensuring they reflect the values and diversity of our district.
Lastly, establishing a robust reporting and monitoring system will enable us to track progress, hold schools accountable, and make data-driven adjustments as needed. Our ultimate goal is to create an equitable and nurturing educational environment where every student has an equal opportunity to thrive.
For a variety of reasons — including the cost of housing in the City of Boulder — student enrollment districtwide has been declining over the last decade. It is expected to decline in future years, too, requiring the district to spend disproportionate resources on smaller schools or face the tough question of closing schools. What should the district do to address declining enrollment?
The declining student enrollment is a complex issue that requires thoughtful consideration. I support the recommendations put forth by the Long Range Advisory Committee, especially the evaluation of open enrollment policies and studying attendance boundaries.
Additionally, I am committed to robust community conversations as the board will be faced with deeply impactful decisions about the use of school facilities in an age of declining enrollment. There are no perfect answers, but as the next board member I know that every decision we make, and especially ones that reach into the heard of communities like, must be made based off of the voices of those who are most affected.
Earlier this year, the Denver school board voted to reinstate police offices in schools. Some parents have called on Boulder to do the same. What are your thoughts on BVSD’s decision to remove school resource officers from its schools?
I agree with the decision to replace SROs with student safety advocates. This was a step in the right direction. It helps create a safer and more inclusive school environment. However, the work cannot stop there. It’s essential to continually evaluate and improve this program.
When elected, I will focus on gathering feedback from students, parents, and educators to ensure the program meets their needs and addresses any concerns effectively. I am committed to making sure every family is seen, heard, and valued in this complex and important conversation as we continue to develop policies that protect our students.
Collaboration and ongoing communication are key to refining this approach and making our schools safer for everyone.
The Colorado Board of Education last year updated the state’s social studies standards to include references to racial and ethnic groups and LGBTQ people. Meanwhile, parent groups and activists are urging school districts to ban books that contain LGBTQ content. What are your thoughts on BVSD’s academic policies related to LGBTQ people?
It’s crucial to recognize that our educational system should reflect the diversity of our society and promote inclusivity and understanding. The Colorado Board of Education’s decision to update the state’s social studies standards to include references to racial and ethnic groups and LGBTQ people is a positive step forward. It ensures that our curriculum is more inclusive and provides a more accurate representation of our history and the world we live in.
Regarding the issue of banning books containing LGBTQ content, I believe in the importance of providing students with access to diverse literature that reflects the experiences of different individuals, including those in the LGBTQ community. Banning books restricts the freedom to read and learn, which is a fundamental principle of education. Instead, we should encourage open dialogues and conversations in our schools, creating safe spaces where students can discuss and learn about various perspectives and experiences.
In BVSD, I would support policies that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in our curriculum. This includes ensuring that LGBTQ individuals and their contributions to our society are accurately represented. Additionally, it’s vital to address concerns from parents and activists respectfully and engage in constructive dialogues to find common ground while upholding our commitment to providing a well-rounded education for all students.
Emergency department visits for suicidal ideation by Boulder County residents ages 10 to 17 were 18% higher in 2022 than in 2021, and the highest since at least 2019, according to data from Boulder County Public Health. What can the school district do to improve the mental health of students?
Prioritizing the mental well-being of all our children drives my commitment to the school board candidacy. The alarming increase in emergency department visits for suicidal ideation among our young residents underscores the urgency for comprehensive action.
Firstly, our schools must bolster mental health education. This entails age-appropriate curriculum to equip students with the tools to understand and manage their emotions effectively. Secondly, accessibility to counseling services is paramount. Increasing the number of counselors to reduce caseloads ensures students receive timely support.
Creating a nurturing, inclusive school environment is equally vital. Student wellness clubs, peer mentorship programs, and safe spaces for open discussions should be promoted.
Collaboration with community mental health organizations is key, extending care beyond school.
I envision safe havens for students to reset during off periods, addressing the insightful point made by BVSD Counselor Greg McDonald. Yet, we need more extensive programs to safeguard our children’s mental health effectively.
I advocate for expanding district-wide initiatives like Monarch’s Wellness Center and Alternative Learning Programs, aiming to support every child. I endorse innovative programs that enhance every student’s mental well-being, ensuring they thrive emotionally and academically.