Opinion: My priority is to be a voice for rural Colorado schools
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
My very top campaign priority is to be a voice for rural Colorado schools. I would like to be a conduit of information coming from local school districts to the State Board of Education and the State Department of Education. I would work directly with local school districts on their problems and issues. I will work toward making Colorado’s public education system the best in the country.
Other top priorities have to do with things I may be able to change and things that I may only be able to influence.
On things I may be able to change, I will ask the State Board of Education to work toward raising our low high school graduation rates. Ten thousand high school students drop out of high school every year, half during their senior year. Our state high school graduation rate stands at 85%. I find this tragic and would work with the Board and the Department of Education on identifying children at risk of dropping out at an early age and having a program to mentor them through to graduation.
I will work to create incentives for improving and expanding vocational education by pairing more students with companies, nonprofits and other enterprises for internships and to create to a certification process for students completing internships.
I will work with the Department of Public Health and Environment on clearer data-driven guidelines for opening or closing schools during the COVID-19 pandemic and on creating more health centers at schools with an emphasis on immunizations and mental health. I will support efforts to achieve good mental health in general among our student population and suicide prevention.
I will work to ensure that our curricula on climate change and on civics are up to date and accurate. All of our graduates should have a good understanding of our Constitution and how our political system is supposed to work. All of our graduates will encounter dramatic climate change during their lifetimes. They will need to understand what is causing it and their individual and collective roles in protecting and restoring the environment.
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I will support the READ Act and advocate for funding to school districts to support implementation of the act. I will support giving teachers more time to complete their coursework for licensure on reading, given the stresses they are currently experiencing. Also teachers who already have advanced degrees on teaching reading should not be required to complete these additional courses.
On things I can influence, I will be an advocate for better funding for our schools and for repealing laws that hinder school funding. I will support better teacher salaries and cost-of-living adjustments for teachers that live in high cost of living parts of the state.
I will maintain a high awareness of not overloading teachers with unfunded mandates handed down by the Department of Education. I will work to convince our Legislature that we must address the crisis of teacher shortages across the state and that the people of Colorado should provide teaching scholarships to assist more college students to take up the teaching profession. We should also incentivize more college graduates to complete teaching certificates by making these certifications free of charge. I will advocate for state-supported incentives for teachers to teach in rural districts.
Mayling Simpson is the Democrat candidate running for the State Board of Education to represent the 3rd Congressional District.
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