On Education Funding

When discussing the relative flaws of education funding in the state of Colorado, it is important to bear in mind a relative comparison to other states, as this will essentially invalidate all the current arguments against increasing education funding.  In the most recent statistics I can find, compiled using census data and state budget data, among the 50 states Colorado ranks 38th in terms of total education funding.  However, to get a more accurate account of the relationship between taxation and education funding in this state, when you determine a ranking based off of education funding expressed in terms of the actual income of the state, Colorado descends to 44th.  In short, there are 43 states that give a higher percentage of their income to their education system.  As Colorado state judge Sheila Rappaport noted in her verdict against the State in the much publicized recent court case,

“… the court does find that public education is very significantly underfunded and that any legislative response of necessity must address the level of funding necessary to meet the mandate of the Education Clause and the standards- based system and should provide funding consistent with that standard.”  -Denver Post

Having worked in schools across the state I can say inarguably that there is a both a lack of funding and a profound unfairness in the allocation of what funding is available. With our current system of school funding the school districts with high property values and high consumer spending receive substantially more funding than those that are in lower property value areas, such as rural schools or low income area schools. However, even the school districts that receive the most money have recently been forced to endure harsh budget cuts. Jefferson County, the district I attended, is considering cuts such as the elimination of elementary school instrumental music programs, the elimination of middle school librarians, and the elimination of half of the elementary school librarians, who will be left to do double duty splitting their time between two schools.
I do not understand how the rational individual can oppose increases to education spending on the grounds that we can’t afford it. it seems to me that there are two things that we should always be adequately funding, no matter what the cost to other programs, emergency services and education. Similarly, there is no way that you can look at our rankings in education spending and come to the conclusion that we are giving our schools the resources they need to compete nationally. With the tabor bill, the only ways to increase school funding are through either a vote by the public or the reallocation of current funds. So here I propose one tax, one slight regulatory change, and one funds reallocation. First, amend the current medicinal marijuana system to allow any colorado citizen over the age of 21 to legally posess and cultivate cannabis. Release all prisoners in state custody solely for cannabis related crimes not involving minors, and cease the prosecution of such cases. Use all of the money currently being wasted on such things for k-12 educaction, and then levy an additional 5-10 percent tax on the sale of cannabis within the state for further education spending. See how much revenue that frees up for their budgets and go from there.


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