The 2013 ballot is now behind us, as is Amendment 66, Colorado’s innovative attempt to reform education in our state.
And though supporters of Amendment 66 are understandably discouraged at its failure, they and everyone else can take heart that the debate around it has revealed a near-universal desire for substantive and immediate education reform. Even opponents expressed the urgent need for reform; they just didn’t believe Amendment 66 was the way to achieve that reform. From one of the primary Amendment 66 opposition websites called “Coloradans for Real Education Reform”: “Our children are Colorado’s greatest asset, and we owe them the best education that we can provide. ... Unfortunately, Colorado’s education system needs reform, but (Amendment 66) isn’t the reform we need.”
Two years ago Eagle County Schools asked voters to approve a property tax increase to help make up the money the district lost in the Great Recession. That measure also failed, but from the ashes of that apparent failure emerged a group of local residents who felt passionately that something needed to be done, and they created the Education Foundation of Eagle County.
EFEC has been a remarkably innovative and unique effort to help fund public schools and re-engage the community with one of its most fundamental pillars. There is simply nothing else like it in Colorado and possibly the nation. EFEC has provided funding — raised here in Eagle County — to retain teachers in our schools, to reward exceptional teachers, to provide extracurricular opportunities for children, and to create ways for parents and other community members to engage with education in Eagle County.
And in the wake of the Amendment 66 failure, the stars are again aligning to usher in further innovative local solutions. On the occasion of his 100th day as our new superintendent of schools, Jason Glass has created a document that is not only inspiring and innovative, but offers real strategies to reform education in Eagle County. “Unparalleled altitude” describes what superintendent Glass has observed so far in our school district, what he has learned from education research and the most successful practical applications in education, and then what proven strategies we should consider in our particular environment of education. You can read “Unparalleled Altitude” at http://issuu.com/eagleschools/docs/altitudereport3.
But the presence of EFEC and Dr. Glass’s vision are not solutions unto themselves. Just as the failure of initiative 3B two years ago galvanized local support, ingenuity, and contribution, so now we need our community to rise to this occasion. Eagle County has shown it is an ideal proving ground for innovative education reform. What we need now is greater engagement from our community’s extraordinary wisdom to help create a real strategic plan of education reform and the funding to make it a reality.
Please show your own commitment to education reform in Eagle County. Donate to the Education Foundation of Eagle County (www.EFEC.org) and ask how you can contribute to local education reform. And contact Superintendent Glass to express your support of his vision (Jason.Glass@EagleSchools.net).
We can sit and fret over what some call our public education crisis, or we can stand up and work together on the opportunity before us right now!