Gubernatorial Candidate Survey
Colorado’s next governor has the opportunity to propel millions of Colorado children into the middle class and beyond. This survey, distributed to all major candidates in spring 2018, shows where the candidates stand on key issues impacting schools in Colorado.
Colorado’s next governor has the opportunity to propel millions of Colorado children into the middle class and beyond. This survey, distributed to all major candidates in spring 2018, shows where the candidates stand on key issues.
GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE SURVEY QUESTIONS
If elected as Governor, what would be your top three education priorities for ensuring Colorado has the best schools in the country?
Jared Polis (D)
Universal full-day kindergarten and preschool will give our children a head start on their learning which will improve their academic performance throughout their education, and also prevent parents from having to choose between their job or taking care of their child.
Studies have demonstrated that if we truly care about addressing the achievement gaps that exist along racial, geographic, and income lines, then early childhood education is the best investment we can make. I’m proud of the handful of districts leading in supporting additional preschool and kindergarten slots, but it’s time for statewide action.
Paying our teachers a competitive wage will help us end the teacher shortage across the state. Additionally, I will partner with Colorado’s business community, counties, and school districts to help provide affordable housing for teachers in high-need areas and pay down student loans for educators.
Finally, we must grow participation in dual and concurrent enrollment programs, and implement Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) education. Traditional pathways to a four-year college aren’t for every student, and as governor I will also boost the role of apprenticeships, skills training, and financial literacy to prepare students for success.
What are your top three strategies for increasing the graduation rate and the postsecondary attainment rate?
Jared Polis (D)
The future of Colorado’s economy depends on providing avenues to success for young adults regardless of if they choose to attend a four-year college or a trade school.
We don’t have to wait until a student completes high school, either. My administration will prioritize boosting participating in dual and concurrent enrollment programs throughout the state.
Families can save thousands of dollars on a college education through these programs, and in many cases, even earn an Associates Degree while in high school at no or little cost to them. We should provide students who may have unique needs with more opportunities to earn an education. I’m proud to have founded the New America School which empowers immigrants with an education, as well as the Academy for Urban Learning which helps provide homeless youth with opportunities to learn.
Additionally, Colorado should lead the way on training for advanced robotics and manufacturing. Programs like CareerWise help create a development pipeline for students to receive certification in business, healthcare, financial services, and advanced manufacturing. And, P-Tech schools, like Skyline High School in St. Vrain School District, are leading the way to train students in programming, web design, and other advanced computer skills.
How would you make sure all Colorado students have access to a high performing school regardless of their zip code?
Jared Polis (D)
Our teacher shortage is one of the most troubling issues our state faces.
Children, particularly in rural areas, are struggling to earn a high-quality education because many school districts are unable to recruit talented teachers to serve in them. A large part of the reason for this is that Colorado teachers have suffered a 7.7 percent reduction in pay over the last decade. The single best thing we can do to correct this is to pay a competitive wage.
We can also do more to support high-quality public school choice. Parents should be empowered to choose their public school, whether a public charter, neighborhood, or magnet school, that’s best for their child, regardless of zip code. But too often, transportation is one of the biggest barriers to accessing school choice. As governor, I will work closely with school districts to support the creation of cost-effective transportation options for students, so that students can attend the public school that best prepares them for their bright future. I will also continue to advocate for strong accountability for all schools including schools of choice. While many public charter schools benefit from additional flexibility, that flexibility should always be coupled with thoughtful transparency and accountability.
How would you ensure Colorado’s schools have the financial resources they need to succeed?
Jared Polis (D)
There is no reason that Colorado schools should be shortchanged in their funding at a time when our economy is one of the strongest in the nation.
The negative factor has robbed rural schools of critical funds by nearly $800 million, and our School Finance Act is not keeping up with the needs of our schools, teachers, and students. I’ll work with our legislature to improve our funding formulas in the School Finance Act, and much like I did with Amendment 23, I will build a winning coalition to go to the ballot box and pass an initiative to better fund our schools and early education opportunities.
At the end of the day, we must have the political will to modernize it to fit our modern needs. I’m glad that bipartisan discussions to do so are being considered in the Capitol, such as Senator Larry Crowder and Representative Dan Thurlow’s efforts to alter TABOR’s formula to provide the state more revenue and increased flexibility to invest in schools and infrastructure. As governor, I would be eager to begin expanding the amount of interests in this conversation to ensure that we have a bipartisan and agreed-upon framework to update TABOR.
Do you think Colorado should be doing more, doing less, or doing the same amount to ensure affordable opportunities for children to access quality early care and education programs? If you think we should be doing more, how would you increase access to quality early care and education programs in Colorado?
Jared Polis (D)
Early childhood education is one of the best predictors of future academic and economic success and our state absolutely needs to be doing more to give kids a high-quality education throughout their lives.
I am the only candidate running for governor on a pledge to bring universal full-day kindergarten and preschool to Colorado families within two years of my election. My plan will allow any parent to send their child to a preschool or kindergarten of their choice at no additional cost to them.
We will accomplish this by building a winning coalition of Democrats, Republicans, business leaders, and advocates for our schools, to write and pass a ballot measure that will boost funding for early education opportunities. I’ve done this before when I helped lead the coalition to pass Amendment 23, numerous local bonds and mill levies, and I’m not afraid to roll up my sleeves to do it again as governor.
Please rank order your top 3 strategies for recruiting and retaining excellent educators in Colorado.
- Allow teachers in hard-to-fill positions like science and math or in rural areas to be paid more
- Develop “grow your own” strategies where districts develop local talent
- Offer loan forgiveness to all educators
What are your top three recommendations for improving Colorado’s public retirement system (PERA) in a way that helps to retain and recruit the highest quality public workforce?
Jared Polis (D)
- Protecting the defined benefit system
- Ensuring that long-term sustainability of PERA is a shared sacrifice among beneficiaries
- Putting policies into place that automatically adjust contribution rates to ensure long-term sustainability and reduce the need for legislative action
Over 500,000 Coloradans rely on the benefits they earned over a lifetime of service to the public. Communities all over Colorado benefit from the retirement income provided to retirees in our state through the PERA system. In fact, $3.8 billion in benefits were paid to retirees living in Colorado in 2016 alone.
I believe that a pension is more than a fund, but it’s a promise. We’ve made a promise to thousands of public servants that if they forego Social Security and enter into PERA, they will be afforded a dignified retirement in exchange for their service to their community. As governor, I intend for Colorado to keep that promise.