Colorado has one of the most educated populations in the country, but we have huge dropout rates and thousands of kids are not attending college. Financing public schools is still our number one challenge.
Affordable Higher Education: Colorado ranks among the lowest of the states in providing affordable tuition for in-state students. High tuition costs prevent many kids from attending college because they can't afford it. We need to establish a firm line item in the state budget for higher education and reverse the trend that places in-state students at a financial disadvantage.
Some children, who were born outside of the United States but grew up in Colorado, are not eligible for in-state tuition, even though they've attended our state's public primary and secondary schools. We must give all children the ability to attend college through affordable tuition if we want Colorado to retain its status as an educated state and a highly desirable place to live. An educated population will also lead to reduced poverty and unemployment levels.
Innovative K-12 Strategies: Statewide, our public schools and school districts lack the programs to enable all of Colorado's children to succeed academically, and school systems are facing achievement gaps and high dropout rates.
We need to evaluate our decades-old systems through a contemporary lens and reshape these systems with innovative programs. We need an accountability system, better measures for evaluating academic growth, and a careful assessment of the programs that are working so they can be models for other schools.
We need to continue to address systemic challenges related to school finance so that all districts get the resources required to adequately serve the academic needs of all children. We also need to formulate statewide strategies to stimulate achievement and reduce the number of dropouts, in both urban and rural areas.