Colorado lawmakers speak on different approaches to education during the pandemic

Coronavirus

DENVER (KDVR) – A group of Colorado state senators and representatives are calling on Gov. Jared Polis to convene a special session of the general assembly to make decisions on the school year and the impact of COVID-19.

The letter, dated July 28, asks for the session to be “limited to developing initiative policies that ensure every child has access to a high quality education, regardless of their unique health circumstances, age, or income level.”

Thirty six republican lawmakers signed the letter to Polis.

>>Click here to read the full letter from Colorado republicans to Gov. Polis

“We have the opportunity to help these families whom we are elected to serve. However, without the call of a special session, we are unable to make the resources available to educate our State’s children in new and dynamic ways to ensure equity in their education,” the letter says.

Colorado state Sen. Paul Lundeen, a Republican, said with the start of school approaching, parents may feel uncertain about the safety of their kids and the quality of education they will receive. So, he said, they are getting creative.  

“They are doing homeschool pods, they are doing different levels of tutorial support,” Lundeen said.  

While affluent parents can afford to do that, Lundeen said he’d like to ensure that all families have those opportunities. He said money could come from per-pupil funding, or from the federal money given to the state for the coronavirus response.

However, that proposal got immediate pushback.

State Sen. President Leroy Garcia, Democrat, said the ideas were half-baked.

“I also worry that it could hollow out the public education system,” Garcia said.

Gov. Jared Polis agreed that the proposal would take money away from public schools. The governor said that proposal would ultimately result in fewer choices for parents because it would force the closure of some schools and some online programs that already exist.

The governor said if there was a state solution that he was confident had a legislative majority, then he would be open to it. But he did not believe that was an option here.

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