By Weld Commissioner Mike Freeman–


With regard to the formation of a 51st state, no issue is more important than education. A new state with new educational goals would provide our children with the schooling they deserve and a system that returns funds to classrooms and control to local school boards.

In fact, the state’s current failures regarding education can be traced to two things: unfunded mandates and the loss of local control.

Unfunded mandates from the federal and state government have forced schools to re-allocate resources from the classroom to administrative overhead. The one-size-fits-all legislation that continues to come from the state capitol, along with burdensome regulations and reporting requirements from the Colorado Department of Education, is difficult and expensive for 138 of the 178 school districts that have an enrollment of less than 3,000 kids. The bottom line: less money is being spent in the classroom while more money is required by school district administrators to collect, disseminate and then report the data to the state.

Furthermore, state lands revenue, which goes directly to the K-12 state education fund, is not fairly distributed to the school districts where the revenue is earned. In fact, Weld County produces 70 percent of the state lands revenue for Colorado (which last year totaled $115 million); the 11 counties voting on the 51st State Initiative this November produce 80 percent of the total state lands revenue. The majority of this money goes to Denver, which has no state lands within its boundaries, and then is distributed across the state rather than remaining in the school districts where the money was earned.

So even though our assessed value has gone up in Weld County, the state per-pupil funding formula has not. Our schools receive no additional funds nor see the benefits of increased property tax revenues with regard to education funding. Instead, our school districts are forced to go to the ballot box to ask for capital construction projects, additional teachers and improved safety measures for our students.

Since education funding in Colorado ($8,700 per pupil) falls well short of the national average ($10,600 per pupil), the children of Colorado are certainly at a disadvantage before they step foot into the classroom.

Our education system used to match the learning needs of children with future job opportunities. With the loss of local control, educators have now cheapened the skills of teachers by forcing them to train ALL children to take standardized tests. The result? Children with different learning styles and abilities are evaluated primarily on their ability to take standardized tests rather than on their individual strengths. In fact, the fatal flaw in our current education system is the teach-to-the-test mentality of educators and administrators due to standardized testing mandated by states and/or the federal government. While the standards (and standardized tests) may have been well-intentioned to start, the results have been nothing short of disastrous as American competitiveness has continued to slip over the past few decades.

A new state that fundamentally believes government operates best from the bottom up rather than the top down would dramatically change education outcomes for the better. By eliminating unfunded state mandates and unnecessary rules, regulations and reporting requirements coming out of the State Department of Education, K- 12 funding would be redistributed to the classroom. Local school boards would then have the control and the ability to empower teachers to provide the best education possible for the students in their district.

Mike Freeman is a Weld County commissioner who represents District 1.

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  1. Joe says:

    Mike–you know this (51st state) is never going to happen. It’s disappointing that you waste your time pursuing and explaining an impossible solution to real problems. It doesn’t speak highly of the effectiveness, wisdom, or skill of our elected commissioners. Instead, it demonstrates that you and the others are more interested in drawing attention to yourselves, without honest regard for the interests of your constituents.

  2. Mr. Leniency says:

    Not only would including the education as an individual, inalienable right, as opposed to a socio-political obligation reduce the amount of money government needs, and therefore reduce the amount of “taxes it extractses,” but it would allow families to orient their education according to their own consciences and in harmony with their own personal sense of morality. Thus, atheist families could teach straight for Darwin’s 19th century Beagle book, and would not be forced to hear anything about religion, nor to praypray. Christian families could exclude Islamic simulations if they wished. Mormons could teach straight from the Book of Mormon and learn the virtues of polygyny. Islamic families could take breaks for salat and restrict their cuisine to what is halal. And flat-earthers and neo-Darwinists could sit around together and sing Kum-ba-yah till the missing links come home.

    There would be greater diversity in pedagogical styles, greater diversity in curricula, and greater diversity in the “product” – by which the collectivists mean the graduates.

    Education is not a “right” if it is enforced, or if the content is prescribed, and if no allowance is made for personal interests, goal, beliefs, and desires. Therefore, any humane constitution worth its salt will include the Right to Education as one of its guaranteed, divinely-ordained and therefore inalienable rights.

    Families would have control over their education; the NEA would see that one size does NOT fit all, and the government would need “less funding” – maybe those less than sage solons could take a class themselves and learn just how insolvent, unnecessary, and rapacious their umpteen trillion dollars really are.

  3. Sam says:

    And glory be, we would have children as ignorant as our commissioners!

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