Last November, voters in School District 51, over in Mesa County, approved a mill levy override which increased property taxes by something like $6.5 million annually for 10 years, ostensibly to pay for classroom improvements and instructional expenses otherwise denied by an emaciated local budget. Well now word comes that changes enacted by the district subsequent to the taxpayer’s plebiscitary generosity are resulting instead in $1.2 million in salary raises for the district’s administrators, and nine new administrator positions.
Just in case there remained some doubt in anyone’s mind that the Democratic Party’s leftward lurch in Colorado was effectively divorcing the party from any affection it may have had for meaningful education reform, the party f
The #MeToo movement must seem like déjà vu to Karen Middleton. The former state lawmaker, longtime education policy wonk, self-described "fierce feminist" — and nowadays, point person for abortion-rights advocacy in Colorado — took her seat in the legislature a decade ago in the wake of the Capitol's last big sexual-misconduct scandal. It was her own predecessor in her state House district who wound up resigning in the face of allegations. And while some things never seem to change, she says the response by some politicians to the latest round of harassment allegations actually has been worse than was the case in 2008. She explains how and also discusses education reform; her first forays into politics — and the therapeutic value of home renovation — in this week's Q&A.
My family has lived in the Columbine High School neighborhood since 1983. Like House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, everyone in my family, my next door neighbors, and my block felt the horror of so much tragedy and heartbreak so close to home.
Chalkbeat Colorado's Nic Garcia offers a post-game analysis of last week's school board elections that serves as a primer for political junkies and campaign tacticians of every stripe. Garcia dissects the highly successful efforts of teachers unions to regain ground they had lost to education reformers in three high-profile school districts — Denver's, Aurora's and Douglas County's — and the big takeaway is go hyperlocal, start early, and dig deep.
Soon after the first round of results had posted at about 7 p.m. Tuesday, Auontai "Tay" Anderson, a candidate for a northeast Denver school board seat, spoke to the crowd gathered to watch election night returns at a popular food incubator in Denver's trending RINO neighborhood.
Imagine for a moment that Colorado families could decide how and where their children are educated. Families are free to spend their tax dollars as they choose. This could include tutoring, online courses, or even school tuition. And whatever is not spent now could be saved and accumulated from quarter to quarter, or school year to school year.
In this scenario, the money follows the student, regardless of his or her family’s income.
Impossible? Not quite. As it turns out, a handful of states are already experimenting with this cutting-edge approach to how we think about education.
Known as education savings accounts (ESAs), the concept is remarkably straightforward. States open education savings accounts for parents using dollars that have been set aside from the state’s education budgets. From there, parents are free to spend those dollars on education-related purposes as they see fit — including school supplies and one-on-one lessons – that they believe best serve the needs of their children.
In practice, very few Americans can exercise this amount of freedom to help their children because only five states offer ESAs, and most of those have limited eligibility. But in states that do offer ESAs, parents express overwhelming support for the freedom and choice they provide.
Regrettably, Colorado is not among the states providing families ESAs. But according to a public opinion poll conducted by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, six out of 10 Coloradans say they are supportive of ESAs, including strong support among young voters (77 percent) and low-income earners (67 percent).
What’s stopping Colorado from offering ESAs? It’s a combination of things, but much of it has to do with powerful special interest groups convinced that students should have only one choice when it comes to receiving an education: a traditional public school. That may work for many, but children have unique learning needs and even the best public school isn’t the right school for every family.
But to make sure families have limited options, teacher unions spend millions of dollars supporting candidates who adhere to this strict orthodoxy. They fight against the expansion of charter schools, tax credits, and ESAs – anything that would imperil their monopoly.
They mislead the American public into believing that expanding these options would come at the expense of the public school educational system. In fact, research has shown that the opposite is true.
While Colorado has made some strides in recent years inimproving student test scores, far too many of our students are continuing to fall through the cracks. This is a particularly acute problem for minority and low-income students in our state.
This reality should drive our urgency.
ESAs and educational freedom empower families to take greater ownership of their children’s education. If a school is not working for their child, parents are able to send their child to a different school – one that better serves the child. And when a student needs additional help, families are able to dip into their ESA account to pay for tutoring and additional instruction.
This is exactly the bold thinking we need to ensure that every Colorado student is able to receive a high-quality education. Innovation is driving much of the progress we see in our daily lives. The time has come to inject some of this innovation into our education system. ESAs can help lead the way.
Now that the Trump administration has initiated the process of renegotiating the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), let’s hope that this process is marked by thoughtfulness and not rhetoric like the president’s earlier comments that NAFTA was “the worst trade deal in history.” Despite the anti-trade rhetoric, NAFTA has been ...
Former Republican state Rep. Victor Mitchell is officially in the race for governor next year. The Secretary of State’s office registered his campaign committee paperwork Friday. Mitchell told Colorado Politics Monday he planned to start the campaign with $3 million to roll out an advertising campaign to build name recognition in what’s expected to be a crowded […]