Cary’s Plan for K-12 Education: Every Student Career and College Ready

I am proud of what I see happening in schools every day across Colorado. I graduated from Manual High School and my daughter attends a public school in Denver. I’ve seen the hard challenges teachers face every day and the extraordinary work they do to support their students. I’ve spent time in schools throughout Colorado, from Kim and Hooper to Bailey and Glenwood, financing the renovation of hundreds of aging school buildings so we give all students in Colorado access to great schools. Public education will be my top priority as Colorado’s governor. Great public schools are the only way we will continue our growing prosperity and ensure our progress reaches everyone. We’ve built one of the strongest economies in the country and it simply doesn’t make sense that our state’s investment in public education ranks at the bottom of states.

Today I announced my plan for public education in Colorado. My goal is that every Colorado student, by the age of 19, regardless of where they live and how much their family makes, is ready for higher education, a career, or both.

You can read our full plan at

This will require us to make a renewed commitment to public schools, and we must start by supporting our teachers. We know that good teachers are the single most important factor in a student’s academic success. We need every classroom to be led by a great teacher and every teacher to have the support they need to ensure the success of all of their students.

Colorado loses talented teachers every day. Our state pays its teachers among the lowest salaries in the country. The average starting salary for teachers in Colorado is $32,126, and teachers in rural districts earn much less. Teachers in Colorado work second jobs, live with their parents and receive public benefits.

Teaching is a highly skilled profession. It requires many years of education and training and good teachers demonstrate talent, skill, creativity, dedication, a love of learning, and a commitment to serve. Over the years I have watched too many gifted teachers leave the profession because of low salaries, lack of support and insufficient professional development.

Colorado can do so much better. My goal as governor is to raise teacher pay in Colorado at least to the national average and close the teacher pay penalty, which is the difference between what a teacher earns and other professionals with the same education. This will promote a larger supply of potential teachers, making the profession more competitive and increasing the overall quality of teachers. These are steps we must take to give our kids the great education that we want for them.

We also need to do more to expand the teacher pipeline, develop a more diverse teaching workforce and support our teachers as leaders. We can do this by expanding teacher scholarships and apprenticeships, giving teachers a larger role in student, teacher and school evaluations and increasing opportunities for teachers’ professional advancement.

We’ve put our whole education plan online. Take a look and let us know what you think.

We want all of our children to succeed, regardless of race, where they live or how much their family earns. Colorado has the second largest achievement gap between students of color and their white classmates in the country. We can change this by empowering parents to engage in their child’s education, providing universal access to preschool and full-day kindergarten, and meeting students’ needs outside of the classroom with wraparound support.

I am frequently asked how we can afford to reach these ambitious goals. For over two decades, the most restrictive spending limitation in the country (the TABOR amendment) has forced Colorado to cut school budgets. As governor, I will lead a statewide coalition to stop the cuts and get back in to our schools what TABOR has taken away.

I grew up with brothers and sisters who joined my family through the foster care program. I’ve seen how kids fall behind and how challenges at home derail their learning. I’ve also seen how a school filled with support and opportunity can change everything.