'There's a lot of nonsense being taught in the schools. And you want to add pre-K to it?' Republican gubernatorial nominee Heidi Ganahl said.
During a debate on Sept. 28, Colorado Republican nominee for governor Heidi Ganahl said the government shouldn't be providing universal prekindergarten.
Ganahl said students' academic performance in the current public education system showed that the government had failed in providing early childhood education, even though data shows that students in states with universal pre-K programs have improved development and academic performance.
I have a heart for kids. I want every child to be able to go to kindergarten, preschool, whatever their parents need. But the government hasn't done such a hot job of K-12 when 60% of our kids cannot read, write or do math at grade level. And there's a lot of nonsense being taught in the schools. And you want to add pre-K to it? I don't know about that
Current Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, who is running for reelection, signed a bill in April that will guarantee 10 hours a week of tuition-free preschool to every 4-year-old in the state starting in 2023. This will expand access to state-funded pre-K, currently only provided to low-income families or to children with language delays, and it's estimated that it will save families $4,300 a year.
Ganahl, however, said she doesn't want the state involved in pre-K. Instead, she wants pre-K to be an "employee benefit" and wants the private sector, charities, and churches to provide the service instead.
After Ganahl came out against universal child care in the debate, Polis fired back, "If I just heard my opponent come out against pre-K, that will cost families $5,000 a year more."
During his first campaign for governor in 2018, Polis ran on a promise to provide universal pre-K to Colorado families.
"For young families, the cost of child care is astounding. I know we can do a better job: That's why I'm running on a platform of bringing universal full-day preschool and kindergarten to every child in this state," Polis said in an ad that year.
Voters in Colorado overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure in 2020 that raised taxes on nicotine products to fund the universal pre-K program. The ballot measure passed 67.6% to 32.4%, a whopping 35-point margin.
Aside from her opposition to the state's universal pre-K program, Ganahl, a member of the University of Colorado Board of Regents, holds other positions that put her out of step with the majority of Colorado voters.
She opposes the right to have an abortion except in cases of rape or incest or if the life of the pregnant person or fetus is at risk. A March poll found that 67% of Colorado voters believe that everyone in Colorado should "have access to abortion care."
Polling suggests that Ganahl's platform is not popular with Colorado voters. Polis leads Ganahl by 13.5 points, according to the FiveThirtyEight polling average. If that holds, that would be more than Polis' 10.6-point victory over Republican Walker Stapleton in 2018 and identical to President Joe Biden's 13.5-point margin of victory in the state in 2020.
Inside Elections, the nonpartisan political handicapping outlet, says the race is not competitive, rating it a "solid Democratic" seat.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.