Paul Teske is Dean and University of Colorado Distinguished Professor at the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado Denver.
(These views represent the personal opinions of the author and may not reflect the position of the University of Colorado Denver or the University of Colorado system).
As we start summer – the real, post-Memorial Day, school is out, summer – it is worth reflecting on the near-term future of education funding in Colorado.
The legislature recently finished its session, which focused mainly upon budget cuts. Both higher ed and K-12 took cuts, but in the end, these cuts were somewhat less than some feared (higher ed), or less than the original level of cuts (for K-12). Remarkably, as the session ended, the fact that that cuts could have been worse seems to have been spun as mainly good news.
EdNews recently linked to new U.S. Census data that ranks Colorado’s per pupil K-12 spending (all revenues divided by number of students) as 40th among the 51 states (including DC). That 2008-9 data is now two academic years behind – two years, by the way, full of deeper cuts in Colorado (and some cuts in some other states, too, to be sure). Consistent with other data on this subject, the Census Bureau shows Colorado spending about $2,000 per pupil below the national average.
I will leave it to others to figure out more precisely what $2,000 per pupil could buy. It would seem, in a single class of 25 students, even if only two-thirds of funds were spent in the classroom, it would buy $33,000 worth of extra instruction for the students in that single classroom – a para-professional, lots of useful technological aides, or whatever students need most.
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