Colorado Initiative 25: LEAP For Who?

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What could possibly go wrong with a new marijuana tax “for the children?” In her third related Op-Ed Colorado Initiative 25: LEAP for Who?, author Patti Kurgan connects the dots regarding Tony Lewis and Amy Anderson with RESCHOOL. Patti explains that their goal is to create a parallel school system to the public school system for “eligible” children, initially funded by new marijuana taxes and governed by an unelected, unaccountable Authority Board.

(This is part 3 of a series. To understand the context of this op-ed, please read the first two.)

They’re back! Another proposed tax “for the children.” LEAP, Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Program, will be a parallel, new, “blended,” government out-of-school learning and healthcare access program for “eligible children” governed by an unelected, unaccountable bureaucratic authority paid for by a new state retail marijuana tax and funds from the state land board. LEAP does not address the core problem in the current education system—the children of Colorado are severely underperforming in basic academics. With LEAP, children who are not “eligible” for the program are left behind.

Who is backing LEAP? The development of Initiative 25: LEAP has been taking shape over the past 15 plus years starting with Tony Lewis’ education system vision when he took a position at the Donnell-Kay Foundation. Amy Anderson joined him there and in 2013 Mr. Lewis’ vision became a reality with the founding of RESCHOOL under the Donnell-Kay Foundation umbrella. In 2018, RESCHOOL became its own organization with Ms. Anderson taking the position of Executive Director.

LEAPing to 2021, Ms. Anderson states RESCHOOL is the educational arm to get Initiative 25 on the ballot and passed by the voters. Ms. Anderson was recently interviewed by Heidi Ganahl as part of Heidi’s Colorful Colorado podcast series. The title of the podcast is Rethinking Education. The importance of this interview is listening to it in the context of ballot Initiative 25: LEAP.

Ms. Anderson’s answers to questions asked by Ms. Ganahl are very telling in explaining what RESCHOOL’s goals are:

We start with learners and their families at the center.
…Ensuring that all kids can access that learning that happens everywhere.
…Making an education system that is more expansive and more equitable.

Ms. Anderson is asked by Ms. Ganahl, Is there any connection with the public school’s system and the public school’s dollars?

Ms. Anderson responds:

There is definitely connections that our Learner Advocate Network has with the public school system in terms of support navigating school and the needs that families have in schools. For the summer Learning Dollar Project, we are partnering with eight, seven, different groups around the state. And four, three of them are school districts. … We have partnerships, for sure, with school districts.

But we have been part of a larger coalition that is supporting an initiative that’s going to be on the ballot this fall called LEAP. That is new money that is being raised to support learning accounts along the lines of what we are doing this summer with the learning dollars that would give kids access year-round to learning dollars that they could use to supplement schooling. It’s additional money coming into the system on top of K-12 funding.

… It would be the first of its kind in the nation.

… Parents … wanting a more blended model. They don’t want their kids going to school from 7am until 3pm every single day. What if kids could go to school a couple days a week and then they learn remotely and do different things on the other days?

… This blends the idea of where learning happens and how learning needs to happen in ways that are more organized around the needs and interests of groups of people.

This interview explains what LEAP will be. Ms. Ganahl comments, “It sounds like you are doing exactly what you think needs to happen to kinda upend education, innovate education in Colorado.” It appears LEAP will be an extension of RESCHOOL using taxpayers’ money—new money that will be raised through Initiative 25: LEAP. Taxpayers’ money will be used to support a non-profit agency that has access to foundations with millions and billions of dollars, and has worked with these organizations in the past.

What does the Ms. Ganahl interview with Ms. Anderson omit? First, the interview does not include that the initiative is for “eligible children,” giving priority to low-income students and households. Second, the interview does not include the “emotional and physical therapy, mental health services, social-emotional learning and mentoring” provided by this potential LEAP program. One of the most important topics not discussed is that parents will not have any input in terms of shaping the curriculum and programs offered. Parents will have a narrow-prescribed menu of programs that will be determined by the newly created unelected, unaccountable Authority in conjunction with their coalition partners.

To underscore why these omissions are disturbing, media commentator Kim Monson wrote a recent Op-Ed, Ten Reasons to Decline to Sign Colorado Initiative 25: LEAP. Ms. Monson has emphasized on her radio show that the initial nine board members will be appointed by the governor. The board member gets to choose her/his replacement.

Take a moment. Let that sink in. Governor Polis, who had 400 plus emergency orders this past year-and-a-half and designated people essential and non-essential workers, will appoint all initial nine board members!

The ballot initiative is currently collecting signatures. The deadline to present the requisite signatures is on Monday, August 2nd.

Just recently I witnessed a woman in the park with her two children in Parker. A signature gatherer told the mother that Initiative 25 will be an afterschool program for the kids. The mother signed the petition. I approached the mother after the canvasser left and provided her with more details regarding the initiative. The mother was stunned and embarrassed that she agreed to sign.

If you too have signed because of an over-simplistic explanation of this ballot initiative, you have a short window to withdraw your support. Per a representative of the Secretary of State office you can do the following:

Simply write an email to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, provide your name, home address and signature stating after reviewing Initiative 25 more in-depth, you wish to have your name stricken from the petition. Send your email to: ballot.access@sos.state.co.us

Any emails received after Monday, August 2nd, will not be removed.

If you wish to verify receipt of your email, contact the Secretary of State’s office at 303-894-2200, click on zero, then ask to speak with someone who can verify receipt of your email sent to ballot access.

August 2nd is fast approaching. We’ll know shortly how money and power will fair in producing another government grab and overreach.

Help by sharing this and previous articles (see below) that educate and inform voters about this issue, LEAP, and ask your friends and family to please Decline to Sign Initiative 25!

Ballot Initiative 25: LEAP
Colorado Initiative 25: A LEAP of Blind Faith!
LEAP From Dot to Dot and Where Do You Land?
Ten Reasons to Decline to Sign Colorado Initiative 25: LEAP 
LEAP Into Higher Taxes: Colorado Initiative 25

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