“It’s not OK that my daughter has 29 kids in her second grade class with little para support.” – Centennial
“It’s not OK that we can’t afford to make copies/buy paper in my school.” – Parker
"It's not OK that the arts are being cut from schools—music, art, world language.” – Castle Rock
Colorado, we have a problem.
These are just a few of thousands of stories we received from parents and citizens across the state during our Great Ed Colorado “Is it OK?” campaign. The testimonies offer a lucid picture of the impact multi-year budget cuts are having on Colorado’s students.
Below are five facts you should know about school funding in Colorado:
Fact #1: Colorado ranks near bottom in education funding.
Colorado is 43rd in per pupil spending for K-12 and 48th in funding for higher education. Plain and simple, we are near bottom in funding for public education. Four consecutive years of budget cuts have resulted in teacher layoffs, larger class sizes, higher tuition rates, reduced graduation requirements, fewer art, music, and tech programs, and increased fees (including fees for bus rides).
Take a look at this graph that documents how Colorado compares to the national average over the last thirty years. Colorado spends $1,800 below the national average, a drop of more than $400 in two years.
Fact #2: In December, a Denver judge ruled in the landmark Lobato v. State of Colorado case, finding that "the public school finance system is irrational, arbitrary, and severely underfunded.”
The decision confirms that poor funding of public schools isn't just bad policy for Colorado's students and economy -- it's unconstitutional. To our disappointment, state leaders delayed the fix by filing a notice of appeal of the decision to the Colorado Supreme Court, akin to hitting the snooze button on education funding.
Fact #3: Preschool funding, which is tied to K-12 funding, has taken a 13% hit over the last four years.
Research shows that high-quality preschool education can substantially improve the learning and development of young children.
Fact #4: Colorado cut higher ed funding more deeply (48%) than any other state between 2004 and 2012.
The cost of college tuition is rapidly becoming out of reach for middle-class Colorado families. Annual tuition increases between 9% and 20% have pushed up tuition rates making college less accessible for all families.
Fact #5: Colorado’s economy is dependent on strong schools.
Strong schools are the foundation of a strong economy and businesses need highly skilled workers for today’s jobs. Now is the time to invest in public education to keep our schools strong and to continue building strong communities.
We were disheartened by this story from Colorado Springs and hope it doesn’t represent the majority of Colorado’s citizens…
“The dismal state of education makes us believe that our family’s future is not in Colorado, despite the fact that it has been our home for 37 years.”
– Colorado Springs
Fortunately, it can be fixed.
And there’s no better time than the present to begin working toward a solution. That’s why Great Education Colorado is embarking on a statewide project to make 2013 the ‘Year of the Student’ making education funding the primary agenda item of the 2013 legislative session.
There are a number of ways citizens can join our ‘2013: Year of the Student’ movement:
- Show your support and sign up to receive updates on our Great Ed Colorado website
- Join a local Great Ed chapter. We have several active chapters in the metro area including Douglas, Arapahoe and Jefferson Counties. Email email@example.com for more information on joining a local chapter.
- Attend our Statewide Education Action Conference in Denver on April 27 from 8:00am-2:30pm. Conference attendees will:
- Connect to the state movement to make 2013 "The Year of the Student,” when state leaders finally take action to stop and reverse Colorado's school and higher ed funding crisis
- Brainstorm with public education supporters from across Colorado about easy, effective ways to engage the public in mill campaigns and state funding advocacy
- Learn how to use social media to spread the word, influence the legislature, and raise awareness
- Learn about the Lobato decision and what citizens can do to enforce this landmark school funding case.
- Like us on Facebook! Great Ed Colorado, Great Ed Douglas, Great Ed Arapahoe, and Great Ed Jeffco. Follow us on Twitter @greated.
- Attend town halls, candidate forums, and community meetings. Ask candidates and elected officials:
Do you believe the current system of school finance is thorough and uniform?
Then let us know what they say. We’ll keep tabs on those that support finding a solution to the funding crisis.
If, like us, you believe that a great education requires adequate funding for educational opportunities from pre-school through college and everything in between, then check us out, then join our grassroots movement to make 2013 the ‘Year of the Student.’