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K-12 Education

Educating the youth of Colorado is one of the essential functions of government.  Looking at society as a whole, a well-educated citizenry is critical to the proper functioning of a representative democratic government.  On the individual level, obtaining a well-rounded, quality education is essential to the future career and economic success of every student.  Without an educated workforce, new businesses will not relocate to Colorado and existing businesses will find it hard to grow.  This hurts everyone.  Colorado offers a variety of options for children and their parents – traditional public schools, charter schools, private schools, parochial schools.  This greatly enhances the opportunity for a student to find the educational model and environment that gives him or her the greatest opportunity to succeed.  Yet, we know there are challenges and frustrations – on the part of students, parents, teachers, administrators, and the public.  The solution proposed by our current elected officials is simple – if we only spend more money doing more of the same thing, then we will overcome these challenges.  The solution is always a simple tax hike away.  But you know that will not fix the problems.

I believe we need to take a new look at the model.  What other sector of our government has locally elected officials subject to the direct oversight and jurisdiction of a state level elected board that is then subject to the direct oversight and jurisdiction of the General Assembly?  The General Assembly passes laws mandating new programs and placing additional responsibilities on our local public schools.  The elected State Board of Education then promulgates new rules, guidelines, reports and oversight on our local public schools to implement these new laws.  The locally elected Boards of Education then have to implement these new rules, guidelines, reports and develop procedures to comply with the new oversight requirements.  Throughout this process, not a single student is being taught.  Education happens in the classroom and, most importantly, it happens in the home.  Every rule, guideline, decision, and dollar spent should, as directly as possible, support children in the classroom and support parents in guiding their children’s education.

The current budget allocates $6.2 billion to K-12 education.  This represents 33% of the General Fund and approximately 20% of the Total Funds Budget.  Another $2.9 billion of local property taxes are allocated to K-12 education.  The level of public financial support for education is not the issue.  The issue is the efficient and effective use of those dollars.  Between 2011-12 and 2018-19, the average spending per pupil increased 25.5%.  How was this money spent?  The number of teachers in Colorado increased by 24.8%; the number of principals and assistant principals increased 28.9%; the number of superintendents, assistant superintendents & directors increased by 16.4%.  And by the way, the student enrollment only increased 6.7%. 

I believe we must commit to the importance of educating the children of Colorado and empowering parents to determine what educational model and environment will be most effective for their children.  Parents should have full educational choice that is financially supported by the State of Colorado regardless of their choice.  We do not ask the citizens of Colorado for over $9 billion just to support our public schools.  We ask our citizens for their hard-earned tax dollars to support the education of our children.  That should be the focus.  To more effectively utilize those dollars, I believe we should allow school districts and individual schools to be run at the local level.  Parents can communicate far more effectively with their local elected school boards to work together to provide the educational programming desired of the local community.  We should abolish the elected State Board of Education and change the mission of the Colorado Department of Education from being a regulatory oversight body of our K-12 educational system to being a shared support service for all of our K-12 school districts and schools.  In conjunction with this change in mission, the number of rules, regulations, reports, etc. that are forced upon our local school districts should be dramatically reduced so that more budget dollars can be reallocated from purely administrative functions to the front-line education of our children.

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