This November, Colorado voters have the chance to approve the largest expansion of parental choice in education in the U.S. in more than a decade.
Conservatives all across Colorado are voting YES on Proposition 119 — names you trust like our last Republican Gov. Bill Owens, former state treasurer Mark Hillman, Colorado Springs conservatives Tim Geitner and Bill Cadman, and battle-tested conservatives like John Andrews, Mesa County’s Janet Rowland, Weld’s Sen. Barb Kirkmeyer, and Douglas County’s Frank McNulty.
A remarkable bipartisan coalition is backing the plan, including former Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter, former U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, and former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb, as well as Colorado state Sen. Rhonda Fields, of Aurora.
These arch fiscal conservatives rarely support a tax increase of any kind. But 119 is a tax on the marijuana industry, an industry that can absolutely afford a small tax.
And that’s the real reason so many conservatives across Colorado are YES on 119.
Proposition 119 provides financial aid directly to parents to get tutoring and other forms of out-of-school instructional support in core subjects like reading, writing, and math.
Is your son or daughter, grandson or granddaughter struggling in math or reading, writing, or science? After a year of closures and quarantines, is your student failing to perform at grade level?
Proposition 119 creates a new independent structure smartly to get financial aid directly to parents so they can get the extra one-on-one instructional to support their student needs.
For the tens of thousands of kids who have fallen behind because of school closures during COVID, Proposition 119 is a lifeline — it provides resources to families to help get kids caught up.
The truth is, too many students have been failed by our public schools for years. A recent investigation by Colorado Public Radio provides startling color: “About 39 percent of the state’s third-graders are reading at or above grade level, down 2.2 percentage points from 2019, while in math, 24 percent of sixth-graders met or exceeded expectations...Students of all races and ethnicities decreased in performance, with Black and Hispanic students scoring significantly lower than white and Asian students.”
The time for bold action on behalf of parents and Colorado kids is now. Proposition 119 is that bold action.
A recent study by the Common Sense Institute found that Prop 119 would provide financial aid to fund tutoring for 98,000 kids. The financial aid program would be administered by an independent board of education experts, not by politicians. Some have wondered why we wouldn’t put the legislature in charge of administering the tutoring dollars. Trust me when I say, we don’t want the legislature in charge of these dollars.
The good news: countless education advocates across the political spectrum like the Colorado’s Children’s Campaign, the Boys and Girls Club, and organizations supporting students with special needs, like Firefly Autism support Prop 119.
The bad news: extreme voices on the far left are pushing hard to defeat Prop. 119.
Thankfully, a broad coalition of conservatives and Democrats, education leaders, and non-profit groups see Prop 119 for what it is — an innovative way to help scores of Colorado kids battling to catch up. It gets resources straight in the hands of parents to get their student the help and support they need.
That’s why conservatives across Colorado are voting YES on 119. I am proud to be one of them.
State Sen. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, represents District 12 in the Colorado General Assembly.