Policies

Reaching the Summit: A World-Class Education for Every Child

April 4, 2018

Every child in Colorado deserves access to an early start, instruction from the best teachers, and skills for the jobs of the future. Achieving these goals begins with repealing the worst parts of TABOR, so we can adequately and equitably fund our schools.

“Mike Johnston is one of the most innovative and exciting education policy thinkers and leaders in America. His record of driving success for kids — from the classroom to state and national policy — can’t be beat. His blueprint is the plan we need in Colorado and across this country.”

– Dick Riley, U.S. Secretary of Education under President Bill Clinton

“Enacting Mike Johnston’s education policy would change the future for the kids of Colorado. We need these bold ideas and investments if we’re going to deliver for the next generation. Mike’s life of service as a teacher, principal, and transformative State Senator has prepared him to lead this change.”

– Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education under President Barack Obama

 

I am the only public school teacher and principal running for Governor, and if elected, I will be the first teacher ever to lead this great state.

I started my career teaching English in the Mississippi Delta in one of the poorest school districts in the country. I then followed in my grandfather’s footsteps to become a Principal and served as the founding Principal of Mapleton Expeditionary School of the Arts (MESA) in Adams County. I was chosen as a Senior Adviser to then-Candidate Barack Obama and helped shape his policy, which he then came and announced at our school. Our amazing team of teachers and students at MESA made history when we transformed a school with a 50% drop out rate into the first public high school where 100% of seniors graduated from high school and were admitted to a four-year college.

But simply being accepted to college did not guarantee my kids the futures they deserved. Many of them were undocumented and could not go to college because Colorado law required them to pay out-of-state tuition. That injustice inspired me to take what I learned in the schoolhouse to the state house, and become a state Senator to make in-state tuition for DREAMERs a reality. Despite the fact that this bill had failed more than a dozen times, I was able to finally get it passed by being the first legislator to find bipartisan support for it. I brought this same approach — working together with people of all parties — to expanding early childhood education, increasing education funding, and supporting teachers, especially in rural areas.

If Colorado is going to build a world-class economy, we need to solve the Colorado Paradox — we are a magnet for nation-wide talent, but regularly fail to prepare our own kids to succeed. The single most important issue that will drive Colorado’s success for decades to come is building a world-class education system. That is why we should elect a public school teacher, someone one who deeply and personally understands the challenges, to fix them.

Here’s what I will do to give every child in Colorado the education she or he deserves:

1. Repeal the Worst Parts of TABOR So We Can Invest in Our Schools

  • Repeal the worst parts of TABOR so we can adequately and equitably fund our schools. I will “de-Bruce” TABOR, so the state can keep the funds it raises through voter-approved taxes, and use them to invest in these key programs.

2. Give Every Colorado Child an Early Start

  • Provide free full-day kindergarten to every child statewide.
  • Eliminate the preschool waitlist to make sure every child who needs it can get access to high quality preschool.

3. Make Colorado the Best State to be a Teacher

  • Pay teachers like the professionals that they are. The most important reason to repeal the worst parts of TABOR is to pay teachers the salary they deserve.
  • Provide loan forgiveness and home ownership supports to attract and retain great teachers in our hardest to serve rural and urban communities.
  • Create career pathways that give teachers more leadership, responsibility, voice and compensation.
  • Recruit a more diverse corps of teachers by focusing on attracting talented leaders of color at every stage of life from high-school to mid-career changers.

4. Offer Every Student the Skills They Need for the Jobs of the Future

  • Make higher education affordable, accessible, and meaningful with the Colorado Promise. Every Coloradan can attend community college or technical education tuition-free if they are willing to serve their communities.
  • Expand career and technical education opportunities. I will invest in expanding CTE in K12 and higher education alike and invest in expanding apprenticeship models.
  • Provide computer science education to every student. I will work with all districts to make computer science accessible to every student.
  • Expand summer and after school opportunities. I will launch a new initiative to ensure that every low-income student can catch up or keep up with access to high quality after school and summer school programming.
  • Create a student cabinet. I will work with Districts to elevate student voices in their schools, and as Governor, I will create a student cabinet to advise me on critical decisions.

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