New report highlights the current crisis of Colorado’s education system
Colorado’s education system is in crisis, according to the annual State of Education report recently released by the Colorado Education Association. The report, which draws from the results of a survey of 1,600 of the association’s 39,000 teachers and school staff, shared several key takeaways that reflect concerns relating to much larger, systemic issues in Colorado’s education system. These takeaways include the following:
- Despite Colorado’s per pupil funding being at its highest level ever, the state still spends well below the national average, making school funding a continued issue. The state’s school funding formula remains largely unchanged since 1994, meaning investments are not strategically targeted to meet the diverse and changing needs of Colorado’s students or the workforce they will enter. In our current system, many children enter school unprepared to meet schools’ expectations, and achievement gaps widen as they progress. The lack of funding has also contributed to educator shortage, pay issues, and burnout.
- Staffing shortages have led to overwhelming workloads, which has contributed to staff burnout. Sixty percent of educators surveyed reported that they are considering leaving in the near future. Low pay has also contributed to the educator shortage, as teachers in Colorado make about 36% less than those of the same education level, the lowest comparative difference in the nation.
- School safety was as major concern expressed by the surveyed educators, with two-thirds reporting that they are “very” or “somewhat worried” about a mass shooting taking place at their school. A lack of mental health support, a lack of LGBTQ+ acceptance, and easy access to firearms were the three main factors reported as contributing to negative well-being amongst teachers and students.
Many of the educators surveyed expressed hope that there could be legislative solutions. As the 2023 legislative session gets underway, the Children’s Campaign is working to address some of the concerns reflected in this report. Proposed policy efforts include making equitable changes to the school finance formula and enhancing school climate data, which will provide crucial information about learning environments to parents, students, educators, and policymakers. To learn more about the Children’s Campaign’s youth success policy priorities in 2023, visit our policy priorites page.