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Lobato earns top educational honor

Posted: Friday, Aug 2nd, 2013

Taylor Lobato, CASEY award winner, celebrated her cousin Anna Kulp’s graduation in May. Photo by Teresa Benns

DENVER — Center graduate Taylor Lobato, who took the spotlight as a Valley spokesperson in the high profile Lobato v. Colorado lawsuit was presented with the annual Colorado Association of School Board Executives Award last Thursday.

In the past, the CASEY award has been presented to governors, state legislators, mayors of Denver, and significant state education policy leaders.

As Bruce Caughey, Executive Director of the Colorado Association of School Executives commented during the awards ceremony, Taylor is “the person who has become the name and face of the Lobato lawsuit…and she is an inspiration.”

Caughey went on to say: “The name Lobato represents a great deal. It is a name from the San Luis Valley of a loving and caring family unit and an extended family that cares a great deal about education and our youth. It is a proud name that represents farming traditions in the Valley and its historic roots. It is a name that has come to prominence in the past decade due to the family’s role as the lead plaintiff in the Lobato lawsuit, under the direction of Attorney Kathy Gebhardt. The Lobatos are role models for the kind of American spirit that makes this a great country and Colorado a great state. They care about what is right and are prepared to fight for it.”

Center Schools Superintendent George Welsh introduced Lobato, noting that he had known her since the day she entered Center Schools as a kindergarten student. “Taylor’s receipt of this award is a direct result of the dignified way she conducted herself as the main spokesperson behind the Lobato v. Colorado lawsuit and the power of her testimony in court,” Welsh began. “Though the wonderful family of Anthony and Denise Lobato ended up being listed first on the lawsuit, thereby giving it the name we have become so familiar with, if not for the dozens of families who stepped forward to sign on as individual plaintiffs the lawsuit would never have taken flight.”

Although the Lobatos and other plaintiffs in the case lost the suit, Welsh says he believes “the end result of the Lobato case WILL be a better, more adequate and more equitable public education funding system for Colorado. Lobato v. Colorado told the stories and put the facts in front of everyone, and now we all need to work together to find and support political solutions to the problems it exposed.”

Welsh gave a vignette of the poised woman he described in his introduction by telling his audience that in the final days of the Lobato suit, “The Taylor Lobato I know — the one who was at that moment also grappling with the reality of suffering a crushing defeat after an 8-year effort to improve educational opportunities for ALL students in Colorado — that Taylor held her emotions in check and delivered an outstanding message to the media just moments later.”

In accepting her award, Taylor said: “I cannot tell you all how absolutely honored and humbled I am to be here receiving such an honor. Since this journey began, my eyes have been opened to what it means to have the name of this case match my very own name. I have done my best to tell my story and share my experiences, hoping that one day those structuring the fate of our education system would understand what needs to be done to make it better.”

She thanked Welsh, attorney Kathy Gebhardt and other mentors for helping her to make her journey to success as a law student at Denver University. She ended her acceptance speech by begging educators and others to continue fighting for Colorado students and schools.

“Please, do not stop. Your students need you. The fight is a frustrating one. It has been for me and I cannot imagine what it has been like for you. Thank you. The students in our state are accomplishing amazing things and that is all thanks to you…I will be here supporting you, and together, we can continue the fight for our students and eventually we will win.”

(Center Schools Supt. George Welsh supplied the speech transcripts for this article.)

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