Making Colorado the Best State for Teachers, Parents, and Students

Making Colorado the Best State for Teachers, Parents, and Students

We’ve all heard politicians tell us that giving our kids a good education is a Colorado value, but at the same time, our public school budgets have been slashed across the state, and our teachers are undervalued—and even vilified. It’s time to stop talking about investing in our children, and actually start doing it.

I’ve been in, and won, fights at the ballot box to improve our schools and pay our teachers better before. As governor, I won’t be afraid to roll up my sleeves and do it again so that our kids can get a world-class education that prepares them for the workforce.

As someone who has founded several non-profit schools, served on the State Board of Education, and fought for our kids as a member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, I’ve worked with teachers, parents, and administrators to take bold ideas and turn them into real results for our classrooms. I’ve put words to action in making our school meals healthier, and in reducing unnecessary standardized testing in our classrooms.

When I announced my campaign, I pledged that as Governor, within two years I will bring together a winning coalition to establish universal full-day kindergarten and preschool in every community across our state. Learn more about that plan by clicking here. Making sure every child has access to early childhood education is one of the best ways to set our kids up for success, and we can make innovative improvements to our school system at every level to keep up the momentum!

Together, we can make Colorado the best state to have a child in a public school, and to be a teacher in the classroom. We can do this by paying teachers what they are worth as professionals, implementing school policies in collaboration with educators, administrators and students, and by making sure that a good education is within reach, no matter a child’s zip code, readiness to learn, or family’s income.

 

Ending our Teacher Shortage by Providing Student Loan Relief, and Building Affordable Housing

Communities throughout our state are struggling with both a high cost-of-living and low teacher pay. As a result, it’s very difficult to recruit teachers to these high-need areas, leaving our schools understaffed. That’s not fair to kids in rural Colorado and in low-income communities. We can work to solve this problem by paying teachers well, providing student loan relief to those who serve in a high-need area, and thinking out of the box to help our teaching professionals have access to affordable housing.

Student Loan Relief for Colorado Teachers

    • As Governor, I will work with local governments and the business community to help relieve student loan debt for teachers, especially for those that work in a rural, or high-need, area for a number of years determined by local school districts who want to participate.
    • Student loan forgiveness for teachers who serve in our highest-need areas will be a key recruitment tool in our mission to end teacher shortages. This will increase take-home pay for teachers, and lower the bar for entry into the profession.
    • Just as I have used my profile as a Member of Congress to strongly support the passage of local school funding initiatives by writing letters to the editor and opinion pieces, I will leverage the profile of the Governorship to support local district measures that provide for more resources to recruit high-quality teachers across the state.

Affordable Housing for Educators

    • At a time when the cost of housing is rapidly outpacing incomes, we can recruit and retain teachers in our classrooms by raising the cap and finding new funding sources for the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program. If we do this, we can meet our capital construction needs and broaden BEST’s mission to include coordinating with local school districts to build affordable housing that will be available to educators in high-need areas.
    • I’ve found creative solutions to solving our affordable housing crisis before. I was proud to pass legislation that required the federal government to sell 40 acres of land to Summit County for the development of over 400 units of affordable housing in Lake Hill. My administration will prioritize working closely with counties to leverage other available resources similar to Lake Hill to make sure teachers are able to live closer to their jobs.
    • Consistent with the mission of the School Trust, we will work with local communities in zoning land under the jurisdiction of the State Land Board to be used for the development of affordable housing, and I will make sure that educators are well-represented as commissioners on the board. There is currently only one commissioner with any background in public education, and I will commit to giving teachers a voice on the State Land Board.

 

Paying Teachers What They’re Worth

Teaching is not an entry-level job. It’s a skill earned through hard work and dedication, and I’m grateful for those who commit their lives to the classroom. It’s time to honor that commitment by valuing it as a profession. Colorado’s economic growth should benefit our classrooms and teachers, too.

Raising Teacher Pay

    • Teachers are some of the most important people in our children’s lives. When our economy is booming, it doesn’t make sense for our classrooms to be underfunded and under-resourced, and for our teachers to be undervalued. Making sure that the best-qualified, and most talented, teachers leading our classrooms are treated as the professionals they are is the right thing to do for our kids and our economy.
    • My administration will work closely with districts, educators, and the legislature to better anticipate our state budget, and make the necessary changes to public school funding to focus on improving the classroom experience for kids, and in paying teachers what they deserve.
    • From local school funding initiatives to modernizing our state’s budget constraints, paying teachers what they’re worth requires a Governor who knows how to build winning coalitions that result in victory for our kids at the ballot box, and responsible budgeting for our state. I’m ready for that challenge after successfully campaigning for and passing Amendment 23, which reversed the budget cuts that were plaguing our schools for years, and numerous local bonds and mill levys over the years.
    • Making sure that the Public Employees’ Retirement Association (PERA) is solvent for years to come is more than just smart budgeting: it’s keeping our promise to those who serve our state. Any attempt to reform PERA on the backs of our teaching professionals will be rejected by me as Governor.

Creating Ladders of Opportunity for Teachers

    • Teachers deserve meaningful opportunities to learn and grow in their work. As Governor, I will work with school districts to establish a strong career advancement pipeline for teachers who want to bring their talents and skills learned in the classroom into leadership roles and administrative positions.
    • I believe that teachers who have served on the front lines in our classrooms can be effective administrators and teacher mentors if those who would like to do so are given more opportunities to collaborate with leadership in their schools.
    • I’ll fight to build strong growth opportunities for teachers by creating a commission of educators and administrators to provide school districts with a model to support teachers interested in taking on a mix of classroom, mentorship, and administrative responsibilities.

 

Giving Teachers a Voice on the Job

Teachers are professionals who have the best interests of students at the top of their minds. I’m proud to support teachers’ right to collectively bargain for the benefits and pay they deserve, and for the tools they need to give students the best classroom experience possible.

Oppose efforts to eliminate collective bargaining

    • As Governor, I will be an ally for teachers by continuing my support for the right to collectively bargain for benefits, pay, and the tools teachers need to give every child a great education. Students and families win when teachers have a strong voice at the table.
    • We need to stop attacking teachers and the organizations that give them a voice on the job. My administration will push for collaboration with teachers and paraprofessionals and other school support personnel, not conflict.

Inviting Teachers to the Table

    • My administration will encourage administrators to work closely with teachers in creating school and district policies that result in the best learning environment for our kids, and strongest working conditions for teachers. We will do this by ensuring teachers have stronger representation on the commissions and working groups that shape not only our education system, but other issues of importance to educators like transportation, infrastructure, and affordable housing.

 

Put Coloradans to Work to Build and Renovate Our Schools

Children and teachers deserve schools that contribute to a strong learning environment and do not serve as a distraction. From classroom improvement to modern plumbing and well-kept playgrounds, students deserve world-class facilities that parents can feel confident in sending their kids to, and we will use the best-qualified and trained workers in the state to make it happen.

    • I’ll challenge the legislature to improve the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program by seeking out new funding sources to make improvements to our school infrastructure, and by raising the cap on funding that can be allocated to high-need schools.
    • When federal legal issues surrounding cannabis tax receipts are cleared up, I will advocate for bonding of school capital construction revenues from Amendment 64 and subsequent cannabis tax initiatives.

 

Increase Collaboration with Teacher-Led Professional Learning Communities

    • Students benefit when teachers have time to prepare for their lessons. As Governor, I will fight for schools to have increased time for teacher-led Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to help teachers analyze data, plan their lessons, collaborate with their colleagues, and be receptive to the needs of students.
    • PLCs are most effective when teachers are put in charge of the process. By letting teachers take the lead in sharing their best practices, lesson plans, and analyze student data, we can make sure our kids are getting the best education possible.
    • Littleton Public Schools recently decided to provide weekly time for PLCs every Wednesday morning, giving parents scheduling consistency throughout the school year while making sure kids still get a full day of school, and giving teachers time to plan.
    • As Governor, I will work with school districts to make this a reality for more teachers, and will work with the legislature to incentivize districts to provide affordable childcare before and after the bell.

 

Preparing Kids for the 21st Century Economy

Our economy is rapidly changing, and the jobs of the future are going to require our students to compete in a global marketplace. Putting our kids on an early path to success is why I will be the strongest advocate in the state for full-day preschool and kindergarten, and we have to make smart adjustments at all levels of our education system. This means encouraging enrollment in trade schools and community colleges, apprenticeships, prioritizing dual and concurrent enrollment programs, and making sure the riches of a great education are available to every child regardless of their background and circumstance.

    • Whether a student wants to earn a liberal arts degree, or learn to be a diesel mechanic, our schools should be pathways of opportunity for a diverse set of skills that will boost our economy, support entrepreneurship, and fill much-needed jobs in high-needs areas, like manufacturing and technology.
    • Dual and concurrent enrollment programs are giving high school students across the state a head start on getting their college degree or certificate. In fact, just over 30 percent of Colorado students are in a dual enrollment program of some type. We will prioritize making sure that 100 percent of Colorado’s school districts are able to offer dual and concurrent enrollment programs through an Associates Degree or professional certification, and work to boost enrollment in them. To further address the teacher shortage and diversify the educator workforce, we should also increase dual and concurrent enrollment opportunities around teacher preparation.
    • We have high expectations for our kids to succeed. I will fight for Colorado to be a national leader in creating educational programming that reflects the increasing value of a diverse set of skills, reinforce social interaction, and put our students on a path to success in college and careers.
    • Colorado should expand access to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs to recognize the importance of art and design’s role in shaping our economy. Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) programs recognize the creative potential of students in building and shaping the world we live in to be more accessible, environmentally friendly, and durable to a changing economy. Colorado should lead the way in prioritizing creativity in our classrooms.
    • Every single student in our schools is uniquely suited with valuable skills that can contribute to Colorado’s economy and way of life. In Congress, I’ve fought to provide teachers with the tools they need to meet the needs of our gifted and talented students. I will work alongside parents and local districts to make sure every school in our state has the infrastructure and teachers necessary to accommodate every student with disabilities, and that district policies, as well as the policies of the Colorado Department of Education, are in the spirit of that goal.
    • Involving families in their child’s learning both at home and at school is critical to educational success. Student performance is improved when parents are engaged at home, and parent-teacher conferences aid in boosting collaboration and parental involvement. The Governor’s office can play a critical convening role for districts, parents, and teachers interested in improving educational success and recognizing best practices around family engagement.
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