Governor Polis (D) of Colorado is rumored to be interested in running for president. One wonders if that's why he appeared before the House Education and Workforce Committee in Congress on February 8, 2023, to testify on education.
It's not as though Governor Polis would have been asked to speak because Colorado has been doing exceptionally well on education. It hasn't.
Chalkbeat Colorado shared how Colorado students were faring in 2022. It reported that, post-pandemic, 59% of third-graders were not meeting or exceeding literacy expectations for their grade level. Older students were doing worse: only 25 percent of seventh-graders met or exceeded benchmarks in math, and only 33 percent of eighth-graders could do math at grade level, while 60 percent of ninth-graders could not do math at grade level, and literacy scores for older students were lower in most grades. "Only 40% of ninth graders met or exceeded expectations in math, compared with almost 50% in 2019, a drop of 8.8 percentage points."
As for differences between races: "Wide gaps remain between Black and Hispanic students and those from low-income households, on one hand, and their better-off white and Asian peers on the other. Where test score gaps narrowed, it was generally because students who historically performed better instead performed worse."
Governor Polis appeared as part of a panel and was welcomed back as an alumnus of Congress and the committee. He had plenty to share with his former colleagues. Someone — perhaps Polis himself — worked hard on the testimony that Polis read to the committee. It was impressive. I imagine that an employee in the Colorado Department of Education prepared the comments.
That would be fine, if Polis were not eyeing a presidential run, but because he may be, one suspects that he used taxpayer dollars by using a state employee to prepare his testimony to promote himself in the public eye.
He has done such things before, and worse. During the gubernatorial campaign, Polis pretended to be giving Coloradoans money in the Colorado Cashback when they were receiving refunds mandated in the State Constitution under the Tax Payer Bill of Rights (TABOR).
At the House hearing, Polis read, "Today our country truly does face an education crisis — a crisis in quality, equity, access and affordability. And, as leaders, we need to do what we can to strengthen our schools, create inclusive settings where all students can learn, empower our educators, parents, and school leaders to prepare every learner for success. That starts with strong early childhood education. Colorado has made incredible progress with free, full-day kindergarten for every child and now new free universal preschool, which launches this fall, which will save families six thousand dollars per year and prepare students for success."
Notice that, in this good introduction, Polis talked about "woke" concerns, not about academic achievement or appropriate content. He made his usual point about how he got all-day kindergarten instituted, and then he addressed how Colorado children fared through and after the pandemic.
While the Pandemic brought forward significant challenges we saw teachers, students, parents, school districts, higher ed, and businesses step up in new and innovative ways. We also saw major federal investments from COVID relief funds provided through the elementary and secondary education relief, or ESER, funds and the governor's emergency education relief, or GEER, funds that are already making a difference. In Colorado, we used the lion's share of our ESER funds to address learning loss, like starting the Colorado High Impact Tutoring program, which offered 43,000 hours of tutoring to 3,800 students in its first semester. We've invested GEER money to create the RISE Education Fund to invest in creative, locally driven solutions to improve student achievement and close achievement gaps in innovative ways, like the creation of a mobile learning center that brings resources, Internet, and learning opportunities directly to students in mountainous Lake County, Colorado. We also created the Governor's Bright Spot Award to recognize the 21 Colorado schools that improved student performance two bands or more on our state accountability system since the Pandemic began, like Rocky Mountain Elementary School in St. Vrain Valley School District[.]
Nothing so detailed was shared with Coloradoans by Governor Polis before the midterm elections. I know because I was listening and I wrote about the governor and education for American Thinker. There was little positive to report.
If the Colorado Department of Education under Governor Polis is actually doing a lot more now than they did in the previous four years to help students succeed, that's terrific. (That takes more than increased funding, by the way.) But more power to them.
I do not say the same for our governor; I do not trust him to be truthful with Americans.
C.S. Boddie writes for Meadowlark Press, LLC.