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Op-Ed: Pot-Tax Revenue Just a Drop in Colorado's Huge Education Needs

Op-Ed: Pot-Tax Revenue Just a Drop in Colorado's Huge Education Needs
Cherry Creek Schools
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On August 7, USA Today published an op-ed by Colorado Christian University's Jeff Hunt titled "Marijuana Devastated Colorado, Don't Legalize It Nationally." The piece quoted from a year-old letter written Dr. Harry Bull, director of the Cherry Creek School District, that said Cherry Creek hadn't benefited from marijuana taxes. But that wasn't correct, Thomas Mitchell reported last week, citing records from the Colorado Department of Education. In response, reader Dave Culp parsed the numbers and sent in this op-ed:

Perhaps I am wrong here, but the vast majority of marijuana tax intended for “education” comes in the form of drug-prevention education materials. Although intended for school-age children, it's in the form of pamphlets, billboards and other stuff that nobody reads that is intended to teach our children to keep away from marijuana and other illicit drugs. As such, the pot-tax revenue was never specifically destined for the school districts that truly comprise our educational system. Indeed, I am about to show you that this manner of educating translates to effectively nothing going to our public schools!

In your article, you indicate that the State of Colorado doled out $28,289 to Cherry Creek School District for 2015-2016. Cherry Creek is the fourth-largest school district in a state that reaped over $200 million in pot-tax revenue in that same time frame. Let’s do the math here…

$28,289 divided by $200,000,000 times 100 percent equals .0141445 percent.

Now, I’m no math major (oh, wait, I was —- must be the pot talking), but when I learned rounding, I learned that a percentage equating to .0141445 was, indeed, equivocally zero. So, although you are right in saying that it was not exactly nothing, it is so close to zero that it’s effectively indistinguishable.

Keeping in mind that this is what the State of Colorado has paid to the fourth-largest district, I’d hate to be Pritchett School District No. RE-3, which is at the bottom of the list. The State of Colorado probably sent them a bill, based on these numbers.

This state is very inferior in its emphasis on, and funding for, education. Again, let’s look at the numbers.

Op-Ed: Pot-Tax Revenue Just a Drop in Colorado's Huge Education Needs
courtesy Dave Culp

We are a state that, per capita, has the second-largest percentage of bachelor’s degree recipients out of all the states in the country, when excluding the District of Columbia. However, when you look at corresponding spending per student, we rank 39th of the 50 states. If those numbers don’t cry disparity, nothing does.

I am willing to concede that any addition to the bottom line for education is a step in the right direction, no matter how very, very, very, very small it may be. That said, let’s come to the collective realization that the addition of pot-tax revenue into the public-school system budget is just a microscopic drop going into a ginormous container that represents the budgetary inadequacies of educating children in the State of Colorado.

Westword occasionally publishes op-eds on topics we've covered on westword.com. Want to submit one? Send it to editorial@westword.com.

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