Colorado Democrats dropped the ball on public education – Loveland Reporter-Herald
By Rob Woodward
Higher remuneration for high quality teachers; encouragement of simultaneous registration; make our schools safer. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? This is what Senate Republicans thought, too, until 23 of the 24 education reforms we proposed were defeated by Senate Democrats in our last legislative session.
Education reform has long been a priority for our caucus; during COVID-19 shutdowns, we heard concerns from parents about the public school system that has left so many families to fend for themselves. In January 2020, just months before our lives were turned upside down, Republicans in the Senate proposed a set of 24 bills that would have brought significant reforms to public education in that state. These measures included a mandatory school safety assessment for each district; a bonus for about half of the teachers in our state; allow transportation across district lines; a scholarship for students who finish high school early; a tax credit for teachers who buy school supplies for their students, and many more.
The Democrats – who control the state government – have killed all but one.
Ready Colorado found that 67% of Colorado residents think the average state teacher salary is too low; 81% of voters support expanding access to magnetic schools, vocational academies and charter schools. The poll found that 73% of voters are in favor of allocating a portion of education funding directly to parents. If you are wondering, Democrats didn’t decide to pursue a different agenda, they decided not to pursue any reform agenda. After all, the Public School Employees Union – a massive donor from Democrats to the legislature – thrives on the status quo.
By the way, according to the Colorado Constitution, the legislature cannot increase or decrease teacher salaries (this is the jurisdiction of a local district), which is why we focused on bonuses and reliefs. fiscal.
In July 2020, Governor Polis and Senate Democrats also rejected Republican proposals for a special session to address education reform at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. We were eager to bring relief to parents – especially lower and middle class families – who watched their children be left behind. It is our responsibility to ensure that every child in Colorado has access to a high quality education, regardless of health, age or income level, which is why we believed it was. relevant to get the legislature back to work.
The Democratic Senate Speaker called it an “attempt to stir the pot” and the Democratic governor refused to call a special session.
Democrats claim to support additional investments in public education. They often and loudly boast of their commitment to promoting an education system that will increase performance, close achievement gaps, offer flexibility and innovation, and better prepare students for college or the world of work. We also share this vision. But we don’t agree that prioritizing archaic and failing institutions over students, families and teachers is the way to achieve this.
The Senate Speaker shed light on our request for a special session, but what he was really trying to say is clear: if it was not proposed by his side or the teachers’ union, he does not want the hear. The Americans have just elected a president who ran on a “unity” campaign platform. In our opinion, unity begins with the willingness of both parties to sit down and talk.
Our education system is lacking in the next generation of Coloradans. I think everyone can agree that this is unacceptable. We will not move forward on this issue if the ruling party is determined to preserve the failing status quo. Our political differences cannot come at the expense of our children’s education.
According to the Colorado Department of Education, Colorado saw more than 30,000 students leave the public school system in the 2020 school year, a drop of 3.3%, which translates into a loss of funding $ 240 million for state schools. The Wall Street Journal has suggested it may take an additional 12 weeks for students to meet grade-level standards following school closures caused by COVID-19.
The challenges we face in this session are even more pressing than the last. Education is not something politicians can continue to ignore, and it is unfortunate that the party controlling both houses of the General Assembly and the governor’s office has chosen to stand in the way of any progress. Instead of killing bills and rejecting special sessions, let’s look beyond our party differences and unite to put students, parents and teachers first.
Rob Woodward, a Republican from Loveland, represents District 15 in the Colorado Senate.