News & Media

New report shows Denver school choice program can be improved for Latinos

Education Reform

February 1, 2013


Contact: Sonja Semion 
Phone: (718) 637-4827 January 30, 2013

New report shows Denver school choice program can be improved for Latinos
Together Colorado, Stand for Children, and the Piton Foundation to present findings at February 26 event

(Denver)Together Colorado, The Piton Foundation, and Stand for Children Colorado released a report today that details ways that Denver Public Schools, and all districts with a commitment to public school choice, can improve their outreach to Latino families.

In spring 2012, the organizations commissioned Monica Torres, Ph.D., of SocialQuest, to study the tools and resources that Latino families, the largest demographic in Denver Public Schools, utilize to make decisions about where to send their children.

“Denver Public Schools has made a remarkable effort to make public school choice available to all parents in the district,” said Miguel Oaxaca, Board President of Together Colorado. “But our organizations remain concerned that low-income Latinos might not engage with the school choice process in the same way as other populations.”

A series of ethnographies and focus groups provided an in-depth examination of the decision-making process leading up to the 2012-2013 school year. Several themes emerged:

• Latino families view education as key to their children’s success and view involvement in their child’s school as necessary to ensure their child receives the best education possible.
• Distance to a child’s school is a significant consideration in school choice, especially under current transportation arrangements in the district.
• The process of choosing a school is often collaborative, involving the perspectives of key members of participants’ social and community networks.
• Parents are often unaware of information on schools’ academic performance, largely find the School Performance Framework difficult to follow when they are aware of its existence, and do not typically incorporate academic performance from the Framework into their choices.

“This report outlines very clear steps that districts can take to make school choice more accessible to low-income, Latino families,” said Sonja Semion, Interim Executive Director of Stand for Children Colorado. “By making school choice tools more accessible and designed to address all families’ concerns, Denver Public Schools can fully realize the promise of school choice.”

To read the full report, including recommendations to make the school choice process more accessible, visit The organizations will present the findings at an event on February 26 at 10:00 a.m. More information to follow.


Fulfilling the Promise of Choice: Challenges and Opportunities in School Choice Decisions Made by Latino Families | [pdf]
To better understand how Latino families choose their schools, this research report combines ethnographies and focus groups to identify themes about how families currently navigate Denver’s school choice process.





 About Stand for ChildrenColorado

Stand for Children’s mission is to ensure that all children, regardless of their background, graduate from high school prepared for, and with access to, a college education. To make that happen, Stand educates and empowers parents, teachers, and community members to demand excellent schools; advocates for effective local, state and national education policies and investments; and elects courageous leaders who will stand up for our priorities.For more information, and to see our newly redesigned website, visit

About Together Colorado
Together Colorado (formerly Metro Organizations for People, MOP) was founded in 1979 with the mission ofempowering people to strengthen and transform their communities through community organizing. Comprised of over 60 member congregations, schools and youth committees from Pueblo to Fort Collins we are building a state-wide non-partisan, multi-racial, multi-faith community organization. Together Colorado has been at the forefront of the school reform movement in Colorado for the past 10 years assisting parents and students in demanding excellent schools for all students. Visit our website:

About the Piton Foundation
The Piton Foundation is a private, operating foundation established in 1976 by Denver oil man Sam Gary. It is funded by the Gary-Williams Company to develop and implement programs to improve education, expand economic opportunities for families, and strengthen lower-income communities.