Education

Our “On the Issues” pages draw from speeches, interviews, campaign websites, our candidate questionnaire and prior media coverage, including our own. These pages will continue to be updated.

Steve Barlock

On school vouchers: “Although school vouchers purport to be an answer for improved educational choice, they are not realistically feasible for many in rural Colorado and were recently rejected by voters in Douglas County due to other complications which state educational tax credits do not have. I am an ardent supporter of parental choice especially homeschooling and access to apprenticeships and STEM offerings for the entire state.” —The Colorado Independent candidate questionnaire

On standardized testing: “Standardized testing increases the power of Common Core and other initiatives to take local control away from our state and communities. I support local control of education and oppose Common Core and continued over reliance on standardized testing.” —The Colorado Independent candidate questionnaire

Cynthia Coffman

No publicly stated position at this time

Lew Gaiter

“As a home schooling dad and past president of Christian Home Educators of Colorado, Lew understands the challenges affecting educating our children. Lew believes parents are truly responsible for the education of their children and whether a parent chooses home education, private schools or public schools parents and their teachers need to work together to ensure the best education for our children.” Lew Gaiter for Governor

In The Colorado Independent’s candidate questionnaire, Gaiter said he would support public money going toward private, including religious, school vouchers, and said that the current system in which standardized testing is the primary measure of school success in Colorado does not need to be changed. 

Noel Ginsburg

We must make improvements across the board – increase teacher wages, help provide teachers the professional resources they need, fight to increase school funding for our kids, reform standardized testing and teacher evaluation methods, and utilize the highly innovative youth apprenticeship system I founded to provide kids on the job work experience, greater access to post-secondary education, and the support they need to dive straight into the middle class and beyond – whether they received an industry credential or a PhD. As a Colorado citizen, business owner, and civic leader, I have been fighting for decades to improve our public education system.”Noel for Colorado

On standardized testing: “In Colorado, we must ensure that the systems we use to evaluate our teachers and our schools are in line with the skills we expect to be taught in the classroom. I have yet to hear any parent tell me they want their child to go to school to learn how to be a great test-taker, so why are we using tests so heavily in evaluating our teachers and schools? It’s time to make a change. Testing should be used as a tool for teachers and schools to help them identify what areas their students struggle in, and to most effectively target the support their students need; not as a club for punishment. As governor, I will recommend that we reform the requirements of Senate Bill 10-191, and establish new methods to evaluate student and teacher performance based on the best examples of cutting edge evaluation methods that we can find across the United States, and the world. Adjustments in our teacher evaluation process should be led by the finalists of the Colorado Teacher of the Year award and the National Board of Teacher’s Certificate recipients, with guidance from the state to ensure their recommendations reflect the needs of both urban and rural, high performing, and low performing schools.” —The Colorado Independent candidate questionnaire

Mike Johnston

“As a former teacher and school principal, Mike believes all kids – regardless of background, income or where they live – should have access to adequately funded, high-quality education. …As governor, Mike will work to increase support to our state’s public schools and implement a “Lifetime Opportunity Promise” providing two years of assistance to individuals wishing to attend college or receive job retraining in exchange for a promise of service to the state.” Mike Johnston for Colorado

On school vouchers: “Public money should support public schools.” —The Colorado Independent candidate questionnaire

On standardized testing: “Tweaks are always going to be necessary to make sure we are providing parents and teachers the information they need to ensure students are getting the education they deserve. I was the sponsor of legislation just three years ago to reduce standardized testing in Colorado, more than any state in the country. That has created a more streamlined and effective assessment system for teacher and students and allowed us to know how our students and schools are doing without over-testing. I think we have to give teachers and schools a chance to make this system work before we change course mid-stream.”  —The Colorado Independent candidate questionnaire

Cary Kennedy

We have been cutting our state’s education budget in Colorado for nearly three decades ever since the TABOR amendment passed.  The result is that today half of Colorado’s school districts have cut back to a four-day school week and we pay our teachers among the lowest salaries in the country.  It’s no surprise that Colorado faces a teacher shortage.  Teachers cannot afford to live here.  Every day good teachers are leaving the state or leaving the profession.  We can do so much better. …I am concerned that our education system is focused too much on high stakes testing, narrowing curriculums and blaming teachers. Colorado can and should have one of the best education systems in the country — one that matches our state’s great progress.  We need to support our schools and educators so they can give every student in Colorado the opportunity to succeed. This will be my top priority as Colorado’s governor.” Cary Kennedy for Governor

On school vouchers: “Public dollars should not go to private schools. The various proposals to send public money to private and religious schools are thinly veiled attempts to undermine public schools and will result in an even more inequitable education system in this state.” —The Colorado Independent candidate questionnaire

On standardized testing: “I’m concerned about what I see happening in education today. We are too focused on testing, narrowing curriculums and blaming teachers.  We need high standards for what students should know and be able to do, and we should measure their progress.  But we want all of our kids to be thinkers and creative problem-solvers, not just good test-takers.” —The Colorado Independent candidate questionnaire

Greg Lopez

“In education, I will work to advance choice in education and focus upon solutions that truly provide opportunities for every student – at all levels of public education – to succeed in academics, as well as in life.” Lopez for Governor

On school vouchers: “Parents have the ultimate responsibility for their children’s education. Parents should have the option to select public, private and religious organization best suited to meet their children’s needs.” —The Colorado Independent candidate questionnaire

On standardized testing: “Standardized testing is not the best measure for school success. I believe standardized testing has undermined the teacher’s ability to properly fulfill the educational needs of the students. It is time we have discussions on how to best achieve the education of the student while simultaneously allowing teachers to have the flexibility they need to properly educate their students. It is important that we focus on how to best measure the success of the student to advance in their education separate and distinct from the success of the school.” —The Colorado Independent candidate questionnaire

Donna Lynne

One of our goals is to increase the number of minority high school students also taking college courses. This is a proven way to reduce the cost many students pay to obtain a college degree and ease the transition from high school to college. We need to do more to ensure our teachers at every level have the resources and support they need to be effective in the classroom. We have a real teacher shortage in our state – especially in our rural regions – and as governor I will work to address this. As a co-chair of the state’s Early Childhood Leadership Commission, I understand how pivotal the right support for our youngest learners is to their long-term success, and as governor I will have the experience to deliver for them.” Donna Lynne for Colorado

On school vouchers: “I do not support school vouchers.” —The Colorado Independent candidate questionnaire

On standardized testing: “I believe that we must have accountability in our education system, and standardized exams are one way to measure student success. I participated in the 1202 bipartisan task force where we were able to reach consensus around many testing issues.” —The Colorado Independent candidate questionnaire

Victor Mitchell

Watch Mitchell’s video explaining his education policy on his campaign website.

““Education is life itself. …And there is no greater challenge facing our state than 50 percent of our at-risk kids who graduate can’t complete college-level course work.” Chalkbeat Colorado

In The Colorado Independent’s candidate questionnaire, Mitchell said he would support public money going toward private, including religious, school vouchers. 

On standardized testing: “There should be less standardized testing and the annual test should be randomly administered as to avoid ‘teaching to the test.’” —The Colorado Independent candidate questionnaire

Jared Polis

I’ve been in, and won, fights at the ballot box to improve our schools and pay our teachers better before. As governor, I won’t be afraid to roll up my sleeves and do it again so that our kids can get a world-class education that prepares them for the workforce.” Jared Polis for Colorado

“As Governor, I will bring together a winning coalition to establish universal full-day kindergarten and preschool in every community across our state within two years. High-quality, full-day kindergarten and preschool promotes school readiness, closes achievement gaps, and supports the healthy development of all children. Improved access to preschool and kindergarten would also save parents money on daycare, and allow parents the flexibility to go back to work sooner if they choose, not only helping families pay rent and put food on the table, but also generating additional tax revenue for the state while decreasing reliance on public assistance programs.” Jared Polis for Colorado

On school vouchers: “I have opposed and will always oppose any effort to direct public money to private school vouchers. Colorado’s public schools are already grossly underfunded, and that’s the problem we need to be focused on fixing — not diverting public money to private interests.” —The Colorado Independent candidate questionnaire

On standardized testing: “I was proud to be a leader in writing the Every Student Succeeds Act, which was signed by President Obama, and replaced many of the outdated top-down assessment requirements of No Child Left Behind. Colorado schools deserve the flexibility to determine what measure of assessments gives our school districts and public bodies the information they need to measure the effectiveness of our education system. That said, I am steadfast in my belief that these assessments should not serve to detract from the ability of a teacher to do what they do best: teach. Teachers are some of the most important people in our children’s lives. It’s incumbent upon the governor and lawmakers to prioritize the wisdom and experience of our classroom professionals in ensuring that the time our kids spend in the classroom is spent wisely.” —The Colorado Independent candidate questionnaire

Doug Robinson

On school vouchers: “This is money Colorado citizens paid for the education of our students; it should be up to the parents to determine how this money is spent to best serve the needs of their student.” —The Colorado Independent candidate questionnaire

On standardized testing: “We should be looking at our standardized tests, to make sure they’re actually testing the areas we want, and that they’re providing us with the information we need to evaluate the performance of our schools. We can’t make progress if we can’t measure where we are. We need standardized tests to ensure that our kids are getting the skills they need, but we also need to ensure these tests don’t come to dominate our children’s education.” —The Colorado Independent candidate questionnaire

Walker Stapleton

“As Governor, I will fight for the right of all Coloradans to have access to high-quality education. Expanding school choice is a critical component of this effort. Charter schools provide a low-cost, high-quality education that serves a more diverse student body than traditional public schools. These schools are at the forefront of education reform and have made tremendous strides in providing equal access to education for all children in Colorado. We must continue to drive for innovation in education that increases student achievement, while ensuring we have transparency and accountability for all teachers and schools. In order to transform our system to one that prioritizes education, we must allow the money to follow the students, not the other way around. Expanding school choice and shifting our focus from schools to students can re-vitalize our education system and turn it into a model for the rest of the nation to follow.” Stapleton for Governor

Erik Underwood

“I plan take the excess state lottery revenues to give hard working families and deserving students a helping hand. The [Colorado Hope Grant] will give free college in – state tuition to graduating high school seniors with a B+ average or better. The grant will also include tuition for trade schools. In return, students will have to give 25 hours per year (4 years total) of community service to the Colorado State Parks & Recreation Department. Graduating high school seniors who do not have a B+ can apply and attend a public community college tuition free. Students that go to a community college for one semester and raise their grades to a B+; can then transfer to a state public college or university, in Colorado, tuition free.” Underwood for Governor

On school vouchers: “Let’s fix our public schools, instead of using public money for schools that are not inclusive for all children.” —The Colorado Independent candidate questionnaire

On standardized testing: “Let’s test the students and not the teachers. These tests should identify any shortfalls that students have so these tests can be used to address specific deficiencies.” —The Colorado Independent candidate questionnaire

Photo credit: U.S. Department of Education, Creative Commons, Flickr