EDITORIAL: ‘LEAP’ will trip up Colorado children | editorial


Supporters of a pioneering initiative to promote the academic progress of Colorado’s children – especially those most in need – have put in more than 200,000 signatures in hopes of securing a spot for the proposal in the November vote. That is an encouraging development. The effort brings new hope to the many humble families in Colorado whose children may need tutoring and other help with schooling but cannot afford it.

The Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress (LEAP) proposal, tentatively titled Initiative 25, pending final approval for the vote, would fund families to choose comprehensive complementary learning support for their children outside of the classroom. You could choose from a wide range of recognized extracurricular learning providers. Offerings include tutors in reading, math, science, and writing; Offers for students with special needs as well as vocational and vocational training programs. And that’s just a partial list.

Each household could receive up to $ 1,500 per child for such out-of-class assistance. Priority would be given to children from low-income households who need it most.

The signatures submitted last Friday still have to be checked by the State Secretariat. It’s a good sign that the number of registered voters across the state who have signed the proposal far exceeds the 125,000 or so signatures required to vote.

Nationwide voter approval is required as LEAP receives a significant portion of its funding from a 5% sales tax on retail marijuana sales. The tax would raise an estimated $ 137.6 million per year. The remainder of the funding would come from the Colorado State Trust’s land holdings, which are administered and used to support public education among other state institutions.

As we noted here when we enthusiastically advocated LEAP in June, legalized recreational marijuana is a challenge to our state, especially our children. While it also generates tax revenue for public services, that doesn’t mean the pot pays for itself. It poses a growing danger to children, given the myriad of easy-to-hide forms it can be purchased in and the increasing potency of its psychoactive ingredient. In addition, a growing body of research shows the serious psychological damage and learning impairments that can result from the use of cannabis in teenagers and adolescents.

All the more, LEAP’s modest tax on marijuana sales to fund an initiative that actually helps kids would be a refreshing change. It is arguably the least we can do to have some of the collateral damage for Colorado’s children, families and communities paid for through legal recreational funds.

Expect the oversized, cynical, and manipulative pot lobby to push back. An industry spokesman has already told our news partner Colorado Politics that the initiative is a “slippery slope” toward higher and higher taxes on cannabis that will eventually “fuel an illegal market and disintegrate regulated marijuana.”

Unfortunately, whether or not a drug has been legalized as cannabis or not, black market drugs are a grim fact for a number of reasons. But to claim that LEAP’s small levy on cannabis could significantly cut its sales is not just alarming rhetoric, it is wishful thinking for us. In fact, given the dangers the drug poses to our state, we wouldn’t shed tears if fewer Coloradans or pot tourists from other states filled the coffers with big marijuana. If only!

In any case, it’s hard to imagine that many Coloradans – especially parents – would say no to this winning and wise proposal. A large number of political luminaries in our state – from across Colorado’s political and social spectrum – have publicly expressed their support. These include two former Colorado governors, Republican Bill Owens and Democrat Bill Ritter, both of whom are known for their deep dedication to expanding educational opportunities.

LEAP would advance this commitment on a large scale. That potential has brought together such a broad coalition of education and community stakeholders in support.

And they realize that the need has never been greater. As Stephanie Perez-Carrillo of the Colorado Children’s Campaign clarified in a press release, “Colorado children who struggled at school before the pandemic are now even further behind.”

“The LEAP initiative will make Colorado the first state in the country to offer a statewide approach to helping children recover from current COVID losses,” she said, “while creating a long-term plan to address them Prevent development of gaps in opportunities in the future. ”

We look forward to the opportunity for voters to interfere; LEAP has already convinced us.

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