By Carolyn Martin (CHEC Director of Government Relations)
Is Leap for Us?
What if a new law in Colorado specifically identified homeschool students as being eligible to serve as a nonvoting board member over a newly created government agency, would you be concerned?
An initiative creating the LEAP (Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress) Program which will be on the ballot this November does just that. It creates the Colorado Learning Authority within the Colorado Department of Education. The impetus for this new program is the failure of the public school system to meet the needs of its students. The latest results from state testing reveals that the third-grade language arts overall scores continue to be dismal — only 39.1% met or exceeded expectations. (Before the pandemic, the results weren’t much better — only 41.3%.) Yet, this decline in scores will be the reason for increasing the growth of government by creating an unaccountable, nontransparent agency.
Here are a few things to consider about this new agency:
- The program offers learning opportunities occurring after school. Those opportunities include, not only tutoring, but career & technical education training, emotional & physical therapy, mental health services, social emotional learning (SEL), and mentoring — to name just a few. (Please take a look at my May blog post which speaks to the transformation of the education system. SEL clearly promotes social justice and critical race theory. The question becomes, “Will Christian families be able to find opportunities in this program that uphold their values?”)
- The agency must certify providers of the services. School districts are pre-certified and teachers receive priority approval.
- No monies are given to families. Certified providers will be directly paid by the agency. Distribution of tax dollars used to pay for the services will give priority to families based on their income.
- Participation in the program allows the agency to collect data on students, including, academic impact and long-term life outcomes.
- The board overseeing the program and the agency itself, which will have control over at least $150 million of taxpayer funds, is not accountable to the people, the legislature, or the department of education.
For families who need additional financial help, this program might sound good. But, let me remind everyone that what the government funds, the government controls. Homeschoolers have been working diligently since the homeschool law was enacted in 1988 to make sure the government does not intervene in our families.
My answer to the question at the top of this article is yes, I am concerned. Specifically including homeschoolers in this initiative brings attention to the exponential growth homeschooling has experienced over this past year. It is difficult to know what their objective is, but my greatest concern is that lawmakers and lobbyists will use this new law to justify requiring academic data from all homeschoolers. It is up to you to decide and vote accordingly. (Read the initiative here and listen to a conversation CHEC had with Mike Donnelly from HSLDA on this and other topics.)
Trusting in the mighty power and grace of Jesus,
Carolyn Martin, CHEC Director of Government Relations