Ballots will be arriving soon, and voters will have the chance to increase funding for our public schools by voting “yes” on Amendment 66. As a parent of three children in public school, I have seen the dramatic effects of funding cuts over the past few years, including larger class sizes, fewer course offerings, the elimination of transportation and outdated technology. The children of Colorado desperately need our support.
Colorado has been an innovator in education reform involving educator effectiveness (Senate Bill 191), curriculum and standards (CAP4Kids, common core), accountability (Senate Bill 163), and literacy (READ Act). However, none of these initiatives has been matched with the necessary resources. In fact, over $2.5 billion in funding has been cut in Colorado from preschool through 12th grade over the last four years. In order to move forward and to keep pace with the rest of the country, implementation of these programs will require increased investment.
The state of Colorado has one of the country’s highest rates of college degrees per capita, yet ranks 48th in the nation in per pupil funding. Even if Amendment 66 passes, Colorado will still be in the bottom third in funding per student. The good news is that our state has been efficient in the use of the limited resources that do exist, and ranks 35th in student achievement. Is that really good enough for Colorado?
While I understand and relate to the views of fiscal conservatives, I cannot understand the logic behind failing to properly educate our youth. Even if you do not have children in the school system, education affects your community. Strong school systems improve property values, create a stronger workforce, and improve the overall economy. Businesses are better able to hire local workers and outside businesses may consider moving to our state.
After years of deep cuts, Colorado finally has the chance to do more for our students. Districts will have greater resources to reduce class size, reinstate transportation, retain quality teachers and improve technology. I encourage you to make an investment in opportunity for Colorado kids by voting “yes” on Amendment 66.