Yes on 66 Campaign Kicks into High Gear; Ballots Go Out in Two Weeks

Have you seen the new ads? The Yes on Amendment 66 campaign this week released two television ads that will run throughout the state to encourage Coloradans to vote Yes on 66. Click below to watch and share:
Yes on 66 Video

Voting begins in two weeks! All registered Colorado voters will begin receiving ballots between Oct. 15 and Oct. 21, and must mail them by Saturday, Nov. 2 or drop them off in person by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 5. Click here to learn more about Colorado’s first statewide vote-by-mail election and how to get and return your ballot.

EditorialIf you can’t wait to commit to kids, you can commit to vote Yes on Amendment 66 at coloradocommits.com/commit-to-vote/ and learn more about how to help spread the word to family, friends and neighbors.

Wondering who else is supporting this critical initiative for kids? Check out the list of more than 300 supporters, which now includes the Denver Post Editorial Board!

 

Amendment 66 Would Ensure Every Child Counts, Every Day

yes on 66 smallEach year on Oct. 1, school administrators in Colorado count the number of students in attendance and that count determines the school’s funding for the rest of the year. “Count Day” is a high-stakes day that determines how much money per student schools get from the state for the school year.

One of the significant school finance reforms that Amendment 66 would enact would be to move from the antiquated single-day count to an Average Daily Membership system. If the ballot measure passes, every child will count on every day. Schools would have the financial incentive to keep—and attract—kids throughout the school year. High-growth schools would no longer be hamstrung by short budgets at the end of the year.

This significant reform is just one of the many improvements that our school finance system would see in order to ensure more one-on-one attention, smaller class sizes and greater accountability in schools.

For more information, read Public News Service’s story, “Counting CO School Children So Every Child Counts” or visit the Colorado Commits to Kids campaign online or on Facebook.

Children’s Campaign staff members have been working hard to educate Coloradans on Amendment 66. This week, Chris Watney was a featured speaker for the campaign at a panel hosted by Denver Kids, Inc.
Children’s Campaign staff members have been working hard to educate Coloradans on Amendment 66. This week, Chris Watney was a featured speaker for the campaign at a panel hosted by Denver Kids, Inc.

Vote Yes on Amendment 66 Events Planned

Several events to promote the Vote Yes on 66 campaign are planned for the coming weeks. Join Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock and other early childhood leaders at a press conference on Monday, Sept. 23 at 11:30 a.m. at Clayton Learning Center, 3801 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Denver.

There are also several neighborhood meetings planned for tomorrow, Sept. 21 in Broomfield, Aurora, Jefferson County, Fort Collins, Central Denver and Boulder. Click here to learn more.

Early Childhood Advocates Line Up in Support of the Colorado Commits to Kids Ballot Initiative

Dozens of parents, educators and advocates added their names to the list of supporters for the Colorado Commits to Kids ballot initiative because of the significant investment it makes in early childhood. Access to consistent, high-quality early learning experiences can set children on a path to high school graduation and life success. Colorado has an increasing number of children who need this access. Currently, the state’s total spending on preschool ranks 38th out of 40 states that have a state preschool program. Further limiting access to quality early learning, Colorado only funds just more than a half-day of kindergarten and relies on individual parents and/or taxpayers in each school district to cover the remaining cost of full-day kindergarten. The Colorado Commits to Kids ballot initiative would provide the largest single investment in early childhood in the history of the state. It would:

  • Remove the cap on seats in the Colorado Preschool Program, opening up access to an estimated 25,500 at-risk 3- and 4-year olds across the state.
  • Fully fund full-day kindergarten for every family that wants it, making Colorado only the 11th state in the country to offer tuition-free, full-day kindergarten.

With these tremendous investments in early learning, it is no surprise that early childhood supporters are lining up to endorse the ballot initiative. Leading voices such as Mile High United Way, Qualistar Colorado, the Early Childhood Education Association of Colorado, the Colorado Association for the Education of Young Children, Clayton Early Learning, Executives Partnering to Invest in Children and the Early Childhood Summit have joined with many others to support passage of the ballot measure. If you would like to see a full list of endorsements or to add your name or your organization’s name to the list of supporters, please visit the Colorado Commits to Kids website.

Colorado Commits to Kids Campaign Needs YOU

The Colorado Commits to Kids campaign is underway to ensure Colorado has the strongest education system in the nation. This November we will have the opportunity to invest in the accountable, innovative and equitable system to support all Colorado students. This is no easy task, it will take all of us to fulfill Colorado’s commitment to our next generation of leaders. Help spread the word about the Colorado Commits to Kids ballot campaign. Download factsheets, join the media action squad, or sign up to volunteer for door knocking, phone banking and other opportunities. You can also donate to the campaign.

Out of everything Colorado does, one of the most important is investing in a high-quality education for our kids. We need to make a commitment to the next generation to reduce class sizes, to get the best teachers into classrooms and to provide more modern and technologically advanced classrooms. A high-quality education system will give Colorado—and our children—the opportunity to be successful. Click here to learn more about what the Colorado Commits to Kids initiative would do.

Education Ballot Effort Kicks Off Statewide Campaign

Yesterday the Colorado Commits to Kids Campaign  launched a statewide effort to pass a ballot measure this fall to increase investments in education. Gov. John Hickenlooper, Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, State Sen. Mike Johnston and Children’s Campaign Board Member Mike Ferrufino led the kick-off event at Green Mountain High School in Jefferson County.

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“With the Colorado Commits to Kids Campaign, we get to build a better Colorado for our students, for our families, for our businesses and for every generation that is going to come after us,” Hickenlooper said to a crowd of business, community and education leaders.

Revenue from the ballot measure would activate the groundbreaking school finance modernization legislation passed by the Colorado Legislature earlier this year. It would fund quality preschool for at-risk kids and full-day kindergarten for all who choose it, provide greater transparency and sustainability of school funding and close achievement gaps by better supporting kids who need the most help. We need to make a commitment to the next generation to reduce class sizes, get the best teachers in front of students and provide more modern and technologically advanced classrooms. A high quality education system will give Colorado—and our children—the opportunity to be successful.

Learn more and take action by visiting www.coloradocommitstokids.com.

Champions’ Circle Members Gather for Sneak Peek at the Colorado Commits to Kids Campaign

This week, Children’s Campaign Champions’ Circle members came together to get the inside scoop on the Colorado Commits to Kids Campaign.  Members had the opportunity to participate in the intimate discussion the day before the official ballot campaign kickoff. The discussion was led by Mike Melanson, co-founder and senior partner, OnSight Public Affairs, and Andrew Freedman, Campaign Director, Colorado Commits to Kids, and included discussion of some of the education reforms included in the Future School Finance Act, along with a preview of the Colorado Commits to Kids ballot campaign over the next two months.

Champions’ Circle members commit to making a significant financial contribution over two years, helping to build a strong financial foundation for the Children’s Campaign by diversifying our funding, and providing a level of financial support that helps the organization plan for the future and maintain first-class research and expertise.  As members of our inner circle, Champions’ Circle members have the opportunity to participate in exclusive discussions with our community’s thought leaders on some of the Children’s Campaign’s most critical priorities. If you’d like information on becoming a member of the Champions’ Circle, contact Director of Advancement Kristy Adams, kristy@coloradokids.org or 303-620-4550.

2013 TCAP Scores Show Modest Improvement in All Subjects, but Achievement Gaps Remain Wide

Results from the 2013 Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP) released this week show small gains in the percentage of students scoring proficient or above in reading, writing, math and science. In 2013, 70 percent of all students scored proficient or above on the reading portion of the statewide assessment, up from 69 percent in 2012. Students showed similar gains in math, with 57 percent proficient in 2013, compared to 56 percent in 2012. In writing, 55 percent of students were proficient or above. The largest improvement occurred in science, however, where scores increased by 1.5 percentage points over 2012 and about half of all Colorado students tested at grade level.

While results also show that since 2008, students who qualify for the free and reduced price lunch program (FRL) have improved at a faster rate than students from moderate- to upper-income families, achievement gaps between low-income students and their peers remain wide. In 2013, 53 percent of students who qualify for FRL were reading at grade level, an improvement over 2012 but still far below the 82 percent of non-FRL students who scored proficient or above. Achievement gaps in writing, math and science were similarly wide. English Language Learners (ELLs) also scored below their peers, with only 46 percent reading at grade level, compared to 75 percent of non-ELL students.

The progress is good news, but more needs to be done. By closing achievement gaps, we can ensure all Colorado kids have a chance at success. This fall, voters will have the opportunity to vote for closing the achievement gap by investing in all Colorado kids, especially those who need the most help. The Colorado Commits to Kids ballot measure would ensure school dollars follow low-income and ELL students and are spent in the most effective way to raise achievement for all kids. Learn more at www.coloradocommitstokids.com.

Click here to see the full TCAP results or click here to read further analysis of the scores in EdNews Colorado.

Colorado Commits to Kids Turns in Signatures, Sets Launch

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Supporters of the ballot measure to increase investment in Colorado’s public education system this week turned in more than 160,000 signatures of Colorado voters—nearly double the number needed to send a finance measure to the ballot this November.  The Colorado Commits to Kids Campaign delivered the signatures to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office to be verified within the next 30 days.

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Please join Children’s Campaign staff and other supporters at the official ballot campaign launch at 1 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15 at Green Mountain High School, 13175 W. Green Mountain Dr. Lakewood, CO 80228. Gov. John Hickenlooper, teachers, students and other education advocates are scheduled to speak about the importance of this measure to our schools and kids.

Visit the campaign’s website to learn more about the ballot measure and get involved. You can also follow and participate in the campaign on Facebook and Twitter.

Poll: Support for Quality Early Childhood Investments is Broad and Bipartisan

This fall, Coloradans will have the opportunity to invest in quality early childhood initiatives in a significant way. New national polling results show that voter support for such investments are broad and bipartisan. A poll released this week by The First Five Years Fund shows that 70 percent of Americans surveyed favored providing all low- and moderate-income 4-year-olds with voluntary access to high-quality preschool programs. They also favored making more early education and child care programs available for infants and toddlers and increasing access to home visiting and parent education programs for families.

The survey found support for those investments was shared by Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike. Ensuring children get a strong start in life was seen as an important national priority by 86 percent of respondents—second only to increasing jobs and economic growth. Voters also say the country is not doing enough on this issue, with 70 percent saying it is an area in which we need to “do more” and that the time is now to invest in children.

“I am very encouraged by these results,” said Chris Watney, Children’s Campaign President and CEO. “Voters clearly recognize the need for, and benefits of, quality early childhood experiences. Most importantly, there is widespread public support for immediate action on early childhood issues. Voters will have that opportunity to support early childhood with the school funding measure on the ballot this fall.”

In Colorado, the fall school funding ballot measure, currently Initiative 22, will include significant early childhood investments, including:

  • Removing the Cap on Colorado Preschool Program (CPP) slots: Currently, not all children eligible for CPP can enroll because of a limit on the number of available slots. A yes vote for the ballot measure is a yes vote for allowing all at-risk 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds to have access to preschool. As many as 25,500 additional Colorado kids could enroll, making it the single biggest expansion of access to early childhood opportunities in the history of the state.
  • Paying for Full-day Kindergarten: The state currently pays for just more than a half-day of quality education for each Colorado kindergartener. This leaves districts to cobble together other funds, charge parents tuition or raise local mills to pay for full-day kindergarten. A yes vote on the ballot measure would be a vote for covering the full cost of kindergarten for every family that chooses to enroll their child. Not only would this provide access for many families without charging tuition, it would also free up locally-raised dollars for other early childhood investments or other needs.
  • Assisting Districts in Meeting Early Childhood Facility Needs: A yes vote on the ballot measure is a yesvote for helping local districts add or improve building space to meet the needs of newly-enrolled preschool and kindergarten students. This capacity-building effort will be done in conjunction with local communities and include an assessment of existing coverage (in both community-based and public school settings for preschool) and local demand for access to early childhood education.

Learn more about Colorado’s opportunity this fall to make a significant investment in quality early childhood education and full-day kindergarten by supporting the Colorado Commits to Kids Coalition’s efforts to pass an education funding ballot measure this fall.