While COVID has created so many challenges for our schools, students, and families, it has also created some opportunities for voucher proponents to offer up legislation that on the surface may be appealing to unknowing parents, but don’t be fooled. When this slight-of-the-hand legislation pops up, we need to make sure our voices are heard loud and clear in the Capitol, so there’s no room for guessing it might be okay to take funding from our public schools to support private schools.
We’d like to draw your attention to Senate Bill 21-037, titled Student Equity Education Programs. http://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2021A/bills/2021a_037_01.pdf
This bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Education Committee upon adjournment Wednesday, March 10th. Please take a moment to either call or email members of the Senate Ed Committee to let them know that considering any legislation that would privatize our public schools is totally unacceptable.
Here is the contact info for the Senate Ed Committee members:
Sen. R. Zenzinger – (Chair)
Sen. T. Storry – (Vice Chair)
Sen. J. Buckner
Sen. J. Bridges
Sen. K. Priola
Sen. B. Kirkmeyer
Sen. P. Lundeen (sponsor of this legislation)
Feel free to copy and paste our message which is at the bottom ⇩
This bill is as blatant a voucher bill as they come. Effective the 2021-2022 school year, It requires schools (school districts and charter schools) that were forced to close one or more schools to in-person instruction for more than 30 days the year prior (which would have been this last 2020-21 school year) to create a funding program that pays parents the state’s share of per pupil revenue for each student. The parent can then use the state funding to purchase “curriculum for use in a non-public home-based program or purchasing services from an individual or private school.” (Per the Impact Statement from the Legislative Council http://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2021A/bills/fn/2021a_sb037_00.pdf)
We all know what kind of struggles our schools went through this 2020-21 school year. COVID breakouts forced schools to close to in-person instruction routinely. The legislator sponsoring this bill seems to be using this legislation to punish public schools as well as seizing the opportunity to create a pathway to privatization.
Here’s⇩ our message to Senate Ed Committee members:
I am writing to ask you to Vote No on Senate Bill 21-037.
In Colorado we have starved our public schools for so long by underfunding them ($8 billion + over the last decade), that when we were hit by something as devastating as the Pandemic, it’s taken every ounce of the innovation, imagination, and determination our school leaders, educators, and staff have to meet our students’ needs.
Not only do our schools provide the academic/learning needs of our children, they have also been tasked with making sure students’ technical/equipment needs are met, provide mental health supports, safety & health needs (including COVID testing, tacking/tracing and follow up), and functioning as food distribution centers (for students and their families who are struggling to survive).
In states where public school funding is at the top of the nation, this has been a difficult task, but in a state such as Colorado where we continue to rank more than $2,000 per pupil below the national average, it’s been a herculean task.
Yet, it would appear there is an effort to punish schools responding to student and educator and community health, that have been forced to close their doors to in-person instruction for extended periods.
Our public schools have been expected to perform miracles as they support students, educators/staff, as well as community, through the COVID crisis. It’s been an insurmountable undertaking. The federal government wasn’t ready for it, why would we expect more from our schools?
Considering any legislation that would privatize our public schools is totally unacceptable. Please Vote No on SB21- 037.