Left with no other options, the legislature is now considering a budget that will cut hundreds of millions of dollars from K-12 education – about $400-500 per pupil. Colorado already funds its schools $1,400 below the national average. Without action at the ballot, the 2011-12 budget will bring even deeper cuts to every public school in Colorado.
Higher education is also in trouble. Colorado ranks 48th in the country in state funding for higher education. The higher education funding cliff threatens the sustainability, quality, and affordability of colleges and universities in Colorado.
Is that what Colorado voters want?
What is DECIDE?
DECIDE stands for “Decide: Education Cuts OR Invest in our Democracy and Economy.”
DECIDE is a proposed referred measure that would give voters the chance to DECIDE whether they want an alternative to balancing our state budget by making deep and irreparable cuts to Colorado’s public schools, colleges and universities.
What would DECIDE do?
DECIDE would allow voters to grant authority to the legislature to increase revenues in order to prevent more cuts to education and invest in K-12 and higher education. New revenues could be used for accountable education reform, class size reduction, school safety, technology, effective teaching, early childhood education and full-day kindergarten, career technical education, higher education and more.
Across Colorado, public schools are enduring deep, crippling cuts that are virtually irreversible. You’ve heard about Pueblo going to a four-day school week. Adams 12 Five Star just announced 180 job cuts. Class sizes are growing in just about every district – and every community college – in the state.
Without action, school districts, colleges and universities will be forced to make even more painful cuts – cuts that could only by reversed through years of steadily improving funding, and only after a heavy price has been paid by Colorado’s students and our local economy:
- Class sizes – already among the highest in the nation – will grow to unmanageable levels.
- Colleges may close or lose their accreditation.
- Highly qualified and effective teachers and professors will leave the state and/or profession – and few will enter the teaching profession.
- Programs critical to educational achievement, economic opportunity and competitiveness, and life-long learning will be lost, perhaps forever. Already deep cuts are being made to music, the arts, foreign languages, International Baccalaureate, Career Technical Education, and specialized programs for diverse learners, such as children with disabilities and those who are academically advanced and/or highly creative. The loss in potential resulting from these cuts is incalculable.
- Students who cannot afford rising tuition will end their advanced education; more high school students will fall through the cracks and drop out – creating permanent obstacles to economic opportunities.
- Colorado will lag in its economic recovery, as businesses seek out locations with a strong commitment to public schools and colleges and universities, and a well-prepared workforce.
Perhaps most important: our children don’t get do-overs, nor can they wait to get their education until Colorado sorts out its fiscal mess. For our kids, educational opportunities delayed are opportunities lost. Inaction is no longer an option.
Is there any evidence that increased funding improves academic achievement?
Yes. While increased funding is not an end in itself, it is the only way to bring necessary resources to bear in educating the next generation. A recent study commissioned by the Colorado School Finance Project “found close links between funding specific, systemic student education initiatives and increased student achievement.” In particular, the study found that certain high-quality, sustained programs and interventions had a significant impact on student achievement, among them: counselors, preschool and full-day kindergarten, professional development, summer school and teacher pay. Notably, funding in each of these areas has, at best, stalled, and, in most cases, fallen significantly in the past two years.
Considering the fact that Colorado ranked in the bottom quintile in many of these indicators before the recent cuts, funding reductions in these areas will put Colorado’s kids at even greater risk of falling behind their national and international counterparts.
Who supports DECIDE?
DECIDE is being proposed by a broad coalition of organizations called the “Great Futures Colorado Campaign.” The coalition supports increased investment in preschool, K-12 and higher education in Colorado. Visit www.greatfuturescolorado.org for more information.
Why should others support DECIDE?
DECIDE would give voters the opportunity to step in to protect Colorado’s kids from more irreversible and crippling education cuts
DECIDE would give the legislature the ability to avoid the looming education funding cliff in 2011, when the federal stimulus dollars end.
DECIDE would allow the legislature to create a more fair and equitable tax structure and to act upon the analysis that will soon be provided by the first study of Colorado’s tax system in over 50 years, which was requested by the legislature (in Senate Joint Resolution 10-002).
DECIDE would protect Colorado from extra years of rebuilding while our fellow states and nations outperform us educationally and economically.
DECIDE would restore balance to two voting traditions in Colorado: limiting the size of government and supporting education. Without it, the voters’ clear intent to protect education from cuts will be violated, without their consent.