The Future of Education With Colorado’s Next Governor

All of us at Colorado Succeeds extend a hearty congratulations to Jared Polis upon his election as Colorado’s 43rd governor. Months ago Colorado Succeeds and over 20 partners came together to ask the gubernatorial candidates an important question: What if Colorado Schools Were #1? Polis and all other gubernatorial candidates answered this question through our candidate survey and explained how they would make Colorado schools the best in the country.

As he prepares to take office in January, now seems a good timed to remember the education and workforce pledges and how he promises to improve Colorado schools, so we can track progress toward their fulfillment over the next four years.

Expanding advanced coursework for students, including dual enrollment programs allowing high school students to receive post-secondary credit.

Polis said “he would use the governor’s office to demand changes in the educational system that he believes would lead to these outcomes, including requirements that colleges grant credit hours for the completion of internships and that all of Colorado’s school districts offer dual and concurrent enrollment programs with local higher-education institutions.” – Denver Business Journal

Supporting policies that promote a variety of post-secondary pathways.

Polis wrote that “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.” – Colorado Succeeds candidate survey

Supporting work-based learning opportunities for more Colorado students.

“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.” – Colorado Succeeds survey

Supporting school choice, including charter schools.

“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…” – Colorado Succeeds survey

Promoting student mastery of skills and competencies over seat time.

“For a student who successfully completes a qualified internship, this experience will directly translate into credit hours that, without charge, will be guaranteed to count toward graduation requirements.” – Polis campaign website. Polis also supported competency-based education while in Congress

Including the business community in early childhood education issues.

Polis said he would create a bipartisan group to craft ballot language asking voters to increase taxes to cover the hundreds of millions of dollars required to expand access to ECE. “We’re going to build a winning coalition,” he said. “We’re going to have Republicans and Democrats. We’re going to have the business community. We’re going to have educators. And we’re going to speak right to families about how important full-day kindergarten and preschool is and what a positive difference it can make in their lives.” — Chalkbeat

Supporting greater transportation options for students, regardless of income or location, to gain access to high quality schools and programs.

“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.” — Colorado Succeeds survey

Building collaborations between industry and education.

“Polis is committed to developing collaborative partnerships between industry, labor unions and educational institutions to establish a statewide network of apprenticeship programs through which students can learn skills.– Denver Business Journal

Rethinking higher education.

Polis vowed to expand existing dual-enrollment programs, which particularly are popular to students seeking to begin earning an associate’s degree at the local community college before they’ve graduated from high school, to all school districts and to allow them to earn professional certifications concurrently as well.” –DBJ article

Allowing differential educator pay for hard-to-fill positions.

Polis ranked the following as his top strategies for recruiting and retaining top educators in our state:

  1. Pay more to teachers in subjects including science and math, and in rural areas – all considered challenging to fill.
  2. Develop “grow your own” strategies for districts to develop local talent
  3. Offer student loan forgiveness to all educators.

Colorado Succeeds looks forward to working with Governor-elect Polis and members of the state legislature over the coming years on converting these promises into policies.

Kelly Caufield

Director of Policy and Advocacy
Colorado Succeeds

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