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The Pickens Technical College High School Pathway allows high school students to get a jumpstart on their higher education goals. One program offered in the High School Pathway is Early Childhood Education, which is designed to prepare students for work immediately as a teacher’s assistant in a childcare center, preschool, or elementary school. Many students use their experience in the classroom as an assistant to pursue their teacher’s certificate and run their own classrooms.

As you well know, the job market for skilled and compassionate teachers and teacher’s assistants is welcoming. Teachers need more help in the classroom than ever before as more families and kids move to the Denver metro area.

To help meet the needs of a growing population, there are a few items on Colorado and Denver city voter’s ballots this November that could impact the early education system in Denver and beyond. If these initiatives are passed, early childhood education professionals will likely be affected. What are the issues, and how could they change the system if passed?

Denver’s Initiated Ordinance 300

The City of Denver’s Initiated Ordinance 300 seeks to raise the sales tax to help fund efforts to boost college enrollment and degree completion at public colleges, universities, community colleges, and technical schools in Colorado. Its proponents say that I-300 will “give thousands of Denver residents the ability to attain an education after high school.” Whether or not you approve of a sales tax increase, if I-300 passes, it will affect the education system in the state in two ways, from your perspective:

First, you could be eligible to receive scholarship funding and other assistance to complete your degree or program in Early Childhood Education at Pickens or other state schools. Second, the kids you’ll be working with within your ECE career will likely have opportunities to attain higher education when they reach high school and college-age. Debating whether or not to raise sales tax is always a worthy argument, but if I-300 passes, it will have an undeniable effect on the education system in Colorado.

Denver’s Initiated Ordinance 302

I-302 is also an increase in sales tax, but instead of the revenue going to scholarships and higher education funds, the revenue goes to provide healthy food and food-based education to Denver youth. The fund will be particularly aimed at low-income and at-risk youth. This means that the preschool, childcare center, or elementary school you work for after completing the ECE program at Pickens will be outfitted not only with healthy food, but also education programs and materials designed to help them learn about eating healthy.

I-302 is designed to help the most vulnerable kids in the education system get the nutrition they need to learn. If passed, teacher’s assistants and other classroom aides will likely have new duties and programs for the kids in the classroom.

Initiative 301 could also impact the state’s education and childcare system, albeit indirectly: it will provide services for individuals with mental health issues and addiction. Even if these initiatives don’t pass, the fact that they’re on the ballot means that many Colorado residents and lawmakers are concerned about the education system and are working to make changes. Sooner or later these changes will affect everyone in the education system, including ECE specialists.