Standing in the Gap Screening: Conversations on Race in Colorado Education

The Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver hosted a screening of the Rocky Mountain PBS (RMPBS) film, Standing in the Gap, on Thursday, January 21. Over 250 attendees joined a welcome reception at Katherine Ruffatto Hall followed by a viewing of the documentary at Davis Auditorium.

The event featured a panel discussion moderated by Maria del Carmen Salazar, PhD, Associate Professor, Curriculum Studies & Teaching, Morgridge College of Education.

Panelists included:

  • Antonio Esquibel, Executive Director of West Denver Network Schools, Denver Public Schools
  • Burt Hubbard, Reporter, Rocky Mountain PBS News
  • Karen Riley, PhD, Dean, Morgridge College of Education
  • Julie Speer, Senior Executive Producer, RMPBS

Standing in the Gap explores the impact of federally mandated busing for Denver Public Schools, as well as the re-segregation that occurred when busing ended in the 1990s. During the film, students, parents, faculty, and administrators describe the challenges they face with segregation and the achievement gaps that continue to exist between white students and students of color.

The panelists stressed the importance of funding for schools, early childhood education, evidence-based best practices, and community and family involvement. The panel discussion was lively with a clear sense that there is not one magic bullet, but that there are strategies that schools, districts, and institutions of higher education are – and can — employ immediately.

The screening was included as part of the University of Denver’s annual Diversity Summit on Inclusive Excellence which is hosted by the Center for Multicultural Excellence. The theme of this year’s summit is “Beyond Good Intentions: Confronting My Bias to Change Our Community”. The documentary is part of RMPBS’s Race in Colorado initiative, produced with the goal to create a new vision for living in diverse communities and to demonstrate how systemic change will benefit communities.

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