Last spring, a group of organizations who recognize the importance of investing in public education in Colorado came together to make 2013 the Year of the Student. The coalition of organizations demanded that the legislature use the 2013 session to address the sorry state of funding for preschool through post-secondary education in Colorado.
Today, the Year of the Student coalition includes 170 diverse organizations and almost 10,000 individuals from over 230 communities around the state who have signed on to our goals.
On May 8, the 2013 legislative session came to a close. So what happened?
Because of the Year of the Student coalition's efforts, students will be much better off next year than they were this year, but there's still a lot of work to do.
This year, legislators were deluged like never before with constituent contacts about education funding -- including face-to-face meetings, briefings, testimony, phone calls and over 25,000 emails. And, for the first time in years, improved education funding was a focal point of legislative debate and action.
The outcomes? Link here for a quick glance, or read on…
- A $30 million increase for higher ed
- A $20 million increase in Special Education funding
- An amendment to the School Finance Act that will result in an estimated $200 million additional deposit in the State Education Fund
- 3,200 new preschool slots
- Passage of a sweeping reform of school finance that has created the opportunity for a ballot initiative in November to significantly increase preschool and K-12 education funding. (The reform bill, SB 213, will not go into effect until the voters approve new revenues for public schools).
But there's still a long way to go. This year's progress leaves many challenges unaddressed:
- K-12 funding is still $1 billion below inflation and enrollment growth since 2009 and even farther behind what's necessary to ensure all students -- no matter where they live or how they learn -- can meet standards and succeed.
- Thousands of eligible children still have no access to preschool.
- Only one state provides less support for higher ed per capita than Colorado.
Of course, 2013 isn't over and there are still opportunities for progress. It's likely that voters will have the chance in November to make a substantial down-payment on the funding necessary to provide all students with the educational opportunities they need to succeed.
We’ll continue to build on this year's success and support legislators in their long-term efforts to do right by students.
We've come so far this year; but we can't let up in the long-term fight to create an education funding system that enables all students to succeed.
Show your support, advocate for Colorado’s students, and keep up to date on the latest news and information on education funding in Colorado by signing up for Great Education Colorado’s periodic email news.
Director of Policy and Communications
Great Education Colorado