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Colorado Education Gets its Close-up

PHOTO: The Colorado School Experience is a new video project by Great Education Colorado. The group is asking people to make videos illustrating the effects of lean school budgets on students. Photo credit: AiClassEland/Wikimedia Commons.
PHOTO: The Colorado School Experience is a new video project by Great Education Colorado. The group is asking people to make videos illustrating the effects of lean school budgets on students. Photo credit: AiClassEland/Wikimedia Commons.
July 15, 2015

DENVER - Education advocates in Colorado are moving beyond policy briefs and fact sheets. "The Colorado School Experience," a new video project, is launching today.

According to Great Education Colorado, the group spearheading the effort, if legislators and voters could see how budget cuts impact the state's students and families, they might be moved to do more about it.

Jefferson County parent Katie Winner was one of the first to tell her story on video.

"I just don't think it's fair ... that a school's resources depends on how much money the students and parents can fundraise," she said. "I'd rather have my son being a kid, working on his homework, instead of selling wrapping paper and cookie dough."

The project aims to produce a series of short documentaries focusing on schools that have to raise money for basics - and such items as the computers students use to take state-required tests. The group says the videos also will draw attention to a lack of services for children with special needs.

Colorado received a failing grade on a recent report card from the Education Law Center for investing just 2.8 percent of its Gross State Product in education. The state's per-pupil spending is more than $2,000 below the national average.

Winner said she thought she had done her research before relocating to Colorado two years ago and has been surprised by what she found, "coming here and just realizing that what in one state is a right can be a privilege in Colorado.

"I assumed that I would be able to enroll my son successfully in preschool," she said, "and I was shocked to find out that many areas have waiting lists."

Colorado's teachers are "working miracles" despite lack of funding, Winner said, adding that she's looking forward to what they can accomplish with sufficient resources.

Great Education Colorado launched a crowdfunding campaign to help produce the stories to distribute to television outlets and social media. More information is online at GreatEducation.org.

The Education Law Center report card is online at schoolfundingfairness.org.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO