Last week, the Colorado GOP Senate Minority issued a call for a special session of the state legislature for the purpose of redirecting public education funding away from schools on an “emergency basis” during the pandemic–a novel pretext for the entirely non-emergency objective of Republicans to “voucher-fy and charter-ize” education at the expense of neighborhood public schools. Because Republicans have no power to compel the legislature to do anything, the net effect of this was a press stunt everybody basically ignored.
But as the Pueblo Chieftain reports, Republicans provoked a fiery response from Democratic Senate President Leroy Garcia worth noting for the permanent record, lest there be any confusion about their real intentions:
“The Republicans’ letter to the governor is the epitome of partisan gamesmanship. Rather than coming to the table in good faith, they chose to engage in underhanded tactics in an effort to score cheap political points. Sadly, this stunt and their subsequent proposal are to the detriment of students,” Garcia wrote.
“Their shortsighted plan would hollow out public schools – which are already struggling – and create an inconsistent, patchwork of learning experiences for our kids. We need holistic solutions that help our teachers and students get back to school safely, not extreme partisan policies meant to stoke political fires and grab press attention.
“It’s time to listen to those on the frontline of education, not rush to conclusions and force through a thinly-veiled voucher program that only further disenfranchises low-income and minority students.”
Although the immediate future for public school students in Colorado is uncertain due to emergency measures to keep students and teachers safe, this situation is not going to last forever. Using the pandemic as a pretext to pull funds from public schools and create a de facto voucher system is a shortsighted response to a short-term problem at best. At worst, it’s a manipulative play on pandemic anxiety to achieve a long-sought political objective for conservatives.
Instead of school vouchers, wear a mask–and do your part to get Colorado’s schools open safely.