Under the Dome: What is state’s role in college readiness?
We are fortunate in Colorado to have a large number of great nonprofit organizations and private charities. These groups and their volunteers provide services beyond what our public tax funded programs can make available to our needy citizens and our schools.
As I sit in joint budget committee hearings and help divide limited resources among so many worthwhile needs, I often wonder what part of our tax dollars should, or could, or actually are contributing to our state’s social safety net and even to education.
I’ve had the opportunity recently to delve into at least one aspect of my question.
I’m honored to be a member of the northwest council of the El Pomar Foundation. Along with other regional councils, we tailor El Pomar-funded programs to our region’s needs. Our regional program is a series of summer camps at our higher education institutions to motivate middle school students toward a career or college.
Many other great programs for college or career readiness and scholarship funds exist.
The University of Colorado college preparedness program is active in our area, and Colorado Mountain College does a great job of reaching down into our K-12 system to educate and motivate students. The legislature passed several work force bills last year, and of course our school districts provide excellent counseling and opportunities for exposure to college and career possibilities. County funded programs also contribute.
Driven by my past life as a systems engineer and project manager, I envision a big wall chart that displays all the programs and entities involved in the drive to prepare our kids for going to college and/or entering the workforce.
There are so many efforts going on that my wall chart is probably impossible to build. The most comprehensive description that I have seen is actually our very own Aspen Community Foundation’s Cradle to Career Program action plan.
Considering this one area, college readiness, raises the philosophical question of how much the state, with tax money, should provide and how much we should depend on the private sector. In the days of tight budgets for every state responsibility, it’s an important question.
From a state budget perspective, it’s important to know what the private sector is doing or is willing to do. While public money may be the primary funding source and can be the initiator of efforts, public awareness and volunteer contributions strengthen the community and make the overall program more effective. From the perspective of the private sector, awareness of public funding can identify gaps and effective mutual efforts.
Legislators are starting to put together bill ideas for next year’s session. Now’s the time for letting us know where “there oughta be a law”.
We have an election coming up. Study your local ballot issues and mail in your ballot. We have some very important bond issues to consider, and don’t forget to vote yes on BB.
“Under the Dome” appears on the second Tuesday of the month. State Rep. Bob Rankin, a Carbondale Republican, is in his second term in the state Legislature representing House District 57, which includes Garfield, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties.
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