Great Futures delivers over 5,200 signatures, thousands of stories to State Capitol

MEDIA RELEASE

March 14, 2011

Public Education Supporters Bring Reality to the Capitol

Message to State Leaders: “Severe Multi-year Education Cuts are NOT OK

with us.  Are they OK with you?”

Great Futures reps, and parents deliver “Is it OK?” signature and story packets at the state capitol Monday.  Constituents delivered 5,200 stories and thousands of stories to state leaders about the impact of poor education funding.

DENVER, Colo. – Conveying a growing concern and urgency about the impact of multi-year cuts on Colorado’s students, public education supporters today delivered a letter to state leaders signed by over 5,200 Coloradoans.  The letter calls on legislators to declare publicly whether they recognize the damage done by cuts and whether they are “OK” with that reality, and was also accompanied by thousands of comments and stories about the local impact of recent cuts.

“We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of comments and stories,” said Lisa Weil, Director of Policy and Communication for Great Education Colorado, which created the online letter in conjunction with the Great Futures Colorado coalition.  “These are the words of folks who want to remind state leaders that a year of lost educational opportunity can never be fully recovered.”

The stories, from over 200 communities across the state, describe the impact cuts are having on classrooms, students and families.  Stories include:

  • Parents watching their children’s performance slide with the decline of individual attention due to increasing class size (often in the 30s or 40s) or the loss of special ed or gifted and talented programming;
  • Parents concerned about the loss of art, music, physical education, foreign languages and other parts of a well-rounded education;
  • English classes where students must read assignments during class because there are not enough books to take home, and chemistry classes that are too crowded to safely permit hands-on lab experiments;
  • Rural districts unable to retain teachers or provide all the coursework necessary for college entrance;
  • Teachers with 20th century technology being asked to teach to 21st century standards;
  • Parents dismayed that out-of-state tuition at colleges in other states costs less than in-state tuition in Colorado.

A representative sample of the stories can be viewed here.

“We need to make sure that state leaders inside the Capitol become more directly aware of the urgency of the problem,” said Lynn Huizing, President of the Colorado PTA, a member of the Great Futures Colorado coalition.  “With the cuts proposed this year, we are going off a cliff that we’ve all known was coming for over two years now, and yet there is still no plan to stop the fall, much less one to start climbing back up.”

“It’s time to change the conversation,” stated Ricardo Martinez, Executive Director of Padres Unidos, a Great Futures partner.  “Right now it’s all about numbers – ‘how much do we have to cut this year?’  We hope leaders will take this letter and these stories to heart, and start talking in earnest about how we are going to change direction.  Our kids can’t wait.”

The text of the letter is as follows:

Dear State Leaders:

As citizens of Colorado, we want you to know that the way our state is funding education is simply not OK. Colorado’s failure to provide necessary resources to our schools, colleges and universities is endangering the future of our students, communities, and economy.

We request that you read our stories about the lack of adequate education resources and that you respond to these two questions:

1) Do you recognize the effect that reduced funding is having on students — preschool through higher ed? and

2) Is it OK with you?

We know you have difficult decisions ahead, and we honor your service. What we seek is an open conversation about the real consequences of poor funding for education.

Legislators were asked to respond to the questions via email, Facebook or U.S. mail.  Responses will be posted at  www.greatfuturescolorado.org.

Great Futures Colorado is a growing and diverse coalition of organizations that informs the public about the need for an education system – preschool through higher ed – that will prepare all students for the challenges of the 21st century. Together, the Coalition advocates for the investment necessary to implement that vision for Colorado.

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