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.
Today, our aging population includes many variables: While many younger generations are beginning to prepare for the future with financial and retirement planning, others lack the resources or knowledge to get started on those processes.
Older generations include seniors who may be disabled, living on fixed incomes or living in sub-standard housing – while increasingly, a whole other segment of seniors includes young retirees who are healthier, working longer, and have more disposable resources than ever that will allow them to enjoy their retirement.
I want to explore ways to help us all age well. I want to develop innovative programs that offer financial, educational, government and community resources to guide people toward a bright future and high quality of life.
In Colorado, many different groups compete for state funding: children’s education, the state’s roads and highways, healthcare and senior resources are just a few. We need to develop innovative ways to fund important programs in the state while addressing equally critical needs. For this, we will be called to make the hard choices.
At the same time, we must consider ways of leveraging the new “green” economy as a mechanism for creating new jobs while looking toward a future of sustainability for our children and grandchildren. We need to provide training, skills and education to our state’s young people. And we need to develop incentives for community collaborations among private companies and the public sector.