Stand for Children Advocacy Fellow, Kaye Taavialma weighed in on Colorado's School Finance formula and the need to update it to make it more equitable in an op-ed in Colorado Politics. Lawmakers are considering updates to the way schools are financed in Colorado this session. In her op-ed Kaye called for lawmakers to add students eligible for reduced-price lunch and students who are English language learners as individual funding factors.
"I strongly urge a shift away from a twenty-year-old formula that limits additional funds to support our most economically disadvantaged English-Language-Learners (ELL). These students need more support allowing schools to focus on removing the unique barriers these students face. In an era of equity, our elected officials must be focused on responding to the needs that exist and recognize that multiple factors result in multi-faceted needs and necessitate more funding. It is time to add students who are eligible for reduced-price lunch and English language learners as funding factors in the school finance formula.
As the former leader of a school serving a 92% Free-Reduced-Lunch (FRL) and 94% ELL community, I can definitively state that a shift in this policy is past-due. Most came from homes where, even if they were born here, the language of their younger years was their parents’ native language. And quite a few of those parents struggled to make ends meet, working multiple jobs for nominal wages. Our students from these homes came to us with a host of needs that were bigger than one label or another. They existed in the nexus of them. Which means we needed to do more to reach and support them but we were given less....
For schools to remove barriers to our students’ learning, they must meet BOTH your language acquisition needs AND your poverty-related needs. To prioritize one over another would be a failure to see the complexity of who you are. Which is what our current funding formula does. A more equitable funding formula means updating it to add students eligible for reduced-price lunch and English language learners as funding factors.
Our children deserve to be seen for who they are and their wide array of needs. We honor them by funding their development of all these aspects, not simply one or another. Equity calls for that and our humanity must heed that call."
Hundreds of Coloradans have emailed lawmakers asking them to update the school finance formula as part of their work on the School Finance Act right now. Join them.