Heidi Beedle Mug

Heidi Beedle, Staff Reporter 

I never planned on being a journalist. I never really planned on much of anything, to be honest. I just sort of found things I was interested in and took them as far as I could. I have no idea where I will be in life next month, let alone five years from now.

My approach to things has given me an exciting wealth of life experience to draw from, which I guess is one of the things that has made journalism a logical place for me to end up. I know a little bit about a lot of things, and that can be helpful in this line of work.

Originally my “official adult career choice” — after spending eight years in the Army because, you know, it seemed like a thing to do — was education. I spent five years as a high school teacher in Colorado Springs. I tried really hard, but failed miserably, which statistically puts me in the middle of the bell curve. Now I get to write about education, and let me tell you, nothing gives you perspective on a topic like spending five years trying to desperately succeed at it — and failing. 

I have been to a number of school board meetings in Colorado Springs in the last six months, and it has been wild to watch conservatives manufacture outrage over the world’s biggest rhetorical straw man — critical race theory — and turn that into electoral success. As former President Barack Obama is fond of saying, “Elections have consequences.” For school board elections, those consequences will be felt most acutely by students.

In school board meetings and candidate forums over the last year, I heard parents and candidates talk about a need to “get back to basics” in order to “improve performance” and “get politics out of the classroom.” You would get the impression that students today are so busy with critical race theory and the gay agenda that they have thrown math, science and English out the window. That is, of course, not anywhere close to reality, but when has reality had any bearing on politics.

Let’s take a look at graduation rates for districts in Colorado Springs, an objective measure of quantifying student achievement and success. Cheyenne Mountain School District 12 and Academy School District 20 lead the way, at 96 percent and 93 percent, respectively. Those results are no-brainers.

​​Affluent school districts with high median incomes — the property taxes on those McMansions ensure that districts can pay enough to attract quality teachers without constant bond measures — will always perform well on standardized tests and will always have high graduation rates. Which district would you guess has the next highest graduation rate?

The answer is Harrison School District 2, at 82.7 percent. D2, it should be noted, has not had to deal with waves of angry ideologues at school board meetings, and had a field of qualified, rational candidates for this election cycle. D2 is a majority-minority district and has the lowest median income in the region, so how is their graduation rate higher than Colorado Springs School District 11’s 70.7 percent and District 49’s 52.2 percent? 

It’s through the power of Critical Race Theory and Marxism, of course. D2’s partnership with the Educating Children of Color Summit and initiatives like the Dakota Promise Scholarship (free college!) are paying dividends.

​​D2’s commitment to the community through wrap-around services like food distribution and their newly-announced partnership with United Way to establish a family success center at Pikes Peak Elementary are helping students overcome the structural disadvantages that conservatives insist don’t actually exist.

D11, D49 and D20 have a new slate of board members who have spent the last year arguing that everything D2 has done to improve graduation rates for the last five years will indoctrinate students and destroy the fabric of American life as we know it. I guess time, and the data, will tell.

— Staff notes originally run in our daily email newsletter, Indy Now, along with news updates, photos of the day, a weekly poll and more. Sign up below.

News Reporter

Heidi Beedle is a former soldier, educator, activist, and animal welfare worker. She received a Bachelor’s in English from UCCS. She has worked as a freelance writer covering LGBTQ issues, nuclear disasters, cattle mutilations, and social movements.