In the 16 years since the Youth Foundation was founded, Eagle County has shown incredible support for its children, working closely with Eagle County Schools to build quality, successful education opportunities for all students. It is well documented that there is a correlation between the socio-economic status of a child’s family and what that child will go on to achieve educationally.
The Youth Foundation’s intent has always been to ensure that opportunities for success are available for all children, regardless of income or education of their parents. A good education drives individual, community and economic well-being. The stronger our education system is in Eagle County, the stronger our community is.
How do we ensure that our students have the tools and skills needed to compete for jobs and achieve their potential? Quality teachers are an important aspect in shaping a child’s development, and Eagle County Schools has made significant progress in professional development, hiring and retaining quality teachers and delivering effective instruction. Eagle County has been a leader in setting new standards for our students, and we have built the nation’s leading education accountability system for our teachers.
Yet, more work has to be done and additional resources are needed to strengthen our education system. Extensive research is included in Senate Bill 13-213 to provide a roadmap for school finance throughout Colorado.
Amendment 66 is a proposed statewide solution based on this bill. Amendment 66 could provide additional funding for smaller class sizes, early childhood education, preschool and full-day kindergarten, classroom technology, charter schools, gifted and talented students, at-risk students, English language learners and educator training.
In order to pay for strengthening our education system through these additions, Amendment 66 asks voters to approve an income tax increase for education. Colorado’s current income tax rate is 4.63 percent. This measure would increase rates on taxable income under $75,000 to 5 percent. Those with taxable income over $75,000 would have a graded tax rate of 5 percent on the first $75,000 and 5.9 percent on any taxable income over $75,000.
One focus of Amendment 66 is early childhood education and full-time kindergarten. Consistent evidence shows that quality early education benefits children of all social and economic groups. There are both short and long-term economic benefits to taxpayers and our community if quality early education that meets high standards is available to all children. In Eagle County, only 28 percent of our children attend preschool. We can and should be willing to do better.
Why should you care? Why should you support Amendment 66? Humankind has always felt a social responsibility to ensure the next generation will have a better life. Many parents today worry about the legacy they are able to leave their children.
If public education is indeed the “great equalizer,” then investing in education is our greatest hope for leaving the world a better place for our future citizens.
We cannot hold this generation of young people hostage due to economic uncertainty as our future economy is critically dependent on our current investments. Public education is good economic stewardship for the public good.
An old proverb says, “We do not inherit the world from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” Let’s return what we “borrow” in better shape than it is today. Please join me in supporting Amendment 66.
Susie Davis is the executive director of The Youth Foundation.