Vote ‘yes’ on Proposition 119 to help improve COVID-fueled learning loss in Colorado kids
Summit County commissioner
After more than a year of hybrid learning and other pandemic-inspired education tactics, what we feared is true: Colorado kids are falling behind.
This November, we can help address learning loss with Proposition 119. The measure will create the Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress program to provide financial aid for families to choose from a variety of approved out-of-school learning providers, including tutors in reading, math, science, writing, extra services for special needs students and after-school programs like CATCH.
It would provide $1,500 in annual financial aid per student for out-of-school instruction, with priority given to those whose family incomes are near or below the federal poverty level. We know additional education and tutoring services are an effective tool for closing the gap — but not everyone can afford or access them. Proposition 119 helps take cost out of the picture.
As if the widening gap isn’t enough of a reason to vote “yes” on Proposition 119. The pandemic turned in-classroom learning upside down. As a result, Summit County K-12 students suffered significant learning losses. According to the Summit Daily News, recent Colorado Measures of Academic Success tests showed Summit County students were substantially behind other Colorado students in mathematics, with similar trends in language arts and English. While testing data must be taken into context, it is important to address the obvious effects of the pandemic on our kids’ education before it’s too late.
We owe it to our students to provide them with supplemental educational opportunities to improve academic performance. If we don’t act swiftly, the gap will continue to widen for Colorado’s youths.
Proposition 119 is a first-of-its-kind measure developed by education experts from every corner of Colorado and has overwhelming bipartisan support. To be clear, financial aid cannot be used for tuition, vouchers or anything else that threatens to undermine our public schools.
However, financial aid can be used for STEM classes, after-school programs, arts and literacy, outdoor education, one-on-one tutoring, special needs services — the list goes on. Programs developed under Proposition 119 will meet the unique needs of Summit County students and take place in the community. The measure was designed to make after-school programs accessible to every student by permitting financial aid to be used for reasonable transportation expenses, materials and supplies to make participating in these programs possible for everyone.
To make this work, Proposition 119 would be funded by an additional 5% sales tax on recreational marijuana and by repurposing a portion of revenue derived from leases, rents and royalties paid for activities on state land. At its core, Proposition 119 is a recreational marijuana tax to fund tutoring for Colorado’s K-12 students.
Proposition 119 addresses the academic disparities, one family at a time, by providing them with financial aid to help them afford out-of-classroom learning.
Equal education accessibility builds stronger communities and brighter futures. Proposition 119 is our chance to help our kids catch up from COVID-level learning loss.
Tamara Pogue is a Summit County commissioner.
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