Proposition 119 will fund before and after school care for low-income Colorado children by imposing an additional 5% sales tax on marijuana and taking some of the money that would otherwise go to a trust from investment used to finance traditional education.
State Senator Rhonda Fields and former State Senator Mike Johnston make a compelling argument that the state should step in and help struggling families afford high-quality tutoring and care for children. children during working hours when the children are not at school.
However, the proposal has one major flaw – it does not actually identify high-quality tutoring and programming for children who would receive around $ 137 million. Proposition 119 would set up a public council similar to other state councils with members appointed to oversee public funds. This council, known as LEAP, would be responsible for approving and identifying healthcare providers. These caregivers would then likely call on parents – who are eligible based on their income – to send their children to a specific program nearby.
We fear that unscrupulous online education providers will jump at this opportunity to raise public funds to offer extremely little in terms of education, or even child care for that matter.
And while there are quality tutoring programs out there that would love to accept state funding so that they can tutor low-income children, the reality is that many of these entities will likely remain private because they have more requests than they can answer as they are.
Instead, candidates for the newly created LEAP council could be nonprofits promising quality care but truly delivering glorified childcare that is already available before and after school in many districts for a lifetime. nominal and often subsidized cost.
If voters approve of this “sin” tax, we hope we are wrong. School teachers may mobilize to provide this tutoring. In fact, initially teachers and other school staff are the only people allowed to accept LEAP funds.
Teachers are dedicated to their students and go above and beyond to help struggling children stay in school. We like the idea that teachers can formalize this before and after school work and get paid for their extra good work. Teachers are already scattered and underpaid; Asking them to take on additional tutoring, especially if the hourly wage turns out to be less than what they earn in teaching, is not fair. And teachers’ unions opposed this proposal.
Johnston and Fields envision the after-school care giants would expand, scale up and improve their programs using LEAP funding. For example, the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, Discovery Link in Denver Public Schools, or before and after school programs in Aurora Public Schools could meet this need by using state dollars to grow. .
The success or failure of LEAP would largely depend on approved service providers and the ability of low-income parents to navigate the system to request funds and access these providers.
It is a bet that we encourage voters not to make.
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