In 2018, Colorado Succeeds, Common Sense Policy Roundtable, and over 20 industry associations and chambers of commerce released a study ahead of the Gubernatorial Election asking: “What if Colorado Schools Were Number 1 – A Business Guide for Colorado’s Next Governor.” The guide featured a study showing significant economic benefits if Colorado students attained the postsecondary education levels needed to meet the talent demands of Colorado employers.
The goal was to ensure education was a top tier issue for the election and to provide guiding principles for the state’s next Governor to support. After a year in office, it’s time to assess where Governor Polis stands on education and on some of the solutions offered in the Vision 2030 principles, which has served as our north star for transforming education in Colorado.
In Gov. Jared Polis’ first year in office, education emerged as one of, if not the most important and impactful areas of focus. In his January 9 State of the State Address, he continued his focus on education by talking about higher education affordability and applauded work done last session to improve the state’s investment in higher education and to help parents start saving for their children’s higher education. Colorado Succeeds is happy to support the College Credit for Work Experience legislation, supported by the governor, which will help more students access higher education and complete credentials through more work experience counting for college credit.
Here are some other accomplishments over the last year that align to Vision 2030:
Expanding Access to Early Education
- Gov. Polis’ signature achievement with the Legislature, Full-Day Kindergarten, will give families across the state the opportunity to make sure their kids have a strong start, at no cost. Colorado Succeeds supported this legislation because we believe all students deserve equitable access to an affordable, high-quality kindergarten. Further, we know that full-day kindergarten is good for the economy. Students who are enrolled in quality early learning programs are more likely to succeed, graduate, and enter the workforce ready.
Expanding Access to Career Exploration and Pathways
- Governor Polis supported multiple initiatives that help students participate in career-connected learning, including the Career Success Development Initiative, expanding apprenticeships, and the Colorado Succeeds-championed High School Innovative Learning pilot (SB19-216) to promote more career-connected learning in high school.
- Governor Polis and his agencies supported the development of the My Colorado Journey. This new platform will provide learners with transparent, easy-to-understand information that allows users to evaluate education and career programs and options by generating personalized career and education recommendations based on users’ interests, abilities, desires, and stage of life.
Fund Students, Not Systems:
- Senators Lundeen and Bridges, with Governor Polis’ backing, championed concurrent enrollment expansion with an additional investment of $2.3 million. By expanding concurrent enrollment, more students will be able to earn college credit while still in high school, making them more likely to earn a postsecondary credential.
- Over the past two years, Gov. Polis supported Colorado’s charter schools through his budget. In doing so, he sent a message that students across Colorado will continue to have the option to choose the school that best fits their needs and interests.
Equip Families with Information and Access:
- The Governor’s budget prioritizes more funding to improve the data quality, accessibility and transparency of the state’s SchoolView website, which helps parents navigate school and district levels of academic achievement so they can make well informed decisions for their families.
Eliminate Silos, Share Everything
- Polis is receiving national recognition for his administration’s usage of the Governor’s Dashboard. Implemented in 2019, the dashboard provides information about key goals, metrics, and progress toward achievement, including bold education and workforce goals. We believe this brings a level of transparency and accountability to government that reflects good business practices.
We’re proud of the progress we made on education policy in 2019, but we know there is room to improve. We look forward to working with Gov. Polis and the State Legislature on our policy agenda for 2020.