Excellent schools and an educated citizenry are important economic drivers for our state. A quality system of education is critical to the success of Colorado's children as it enhances our economic foundation and is a key element in our ability to attract and retain businesses. In addition to the benefits to the state, members of the Colorado Forum believe that providing every Colorado student with access to a high-performing school and the opportunity for an excellent learning experience is a moral imperative. Upon graduation, Colorado high school students must be prepared and capable of entering the work force or attending a higher education institution at a reasonable cost. The education of our children is an essential endeavor that drives over half of the state's budgetary outlay each year.
Funding for strong schools in Colorado has been a significant priority for the Forum but has been complicated by the state's limited ability to raise new revenue to support our schools. With the small amount of new revenue available, we have advanced reforms to achieve strong education outcomes for Colorado's students. We view the achievement gap in our state as a significant issue and have advocated for English Language Learner (ELL) and Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs to narrow this gap. We believe that high standards, including the Colorado Academic Standards and aligned assessments, are critical to improving educational outcomes and ensuring that students are ready for the work force.
We are focused on quality Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs, beginning with at-risk 4-year-olds, to ensure that Colorado's children are ready to be successful in kindergarten and beyond. We supported the 2014 ballot initiative to extend the Denver Preschool Program, a program the Forum helped to establish in 2006. In addition, the Forum endorses, with 100% consensus, the Colorado Academic Standards and supports the efforts of Future Forward Colorado, an initiative within the business community to advance high standards throughout the state. We continue to actively support Colorado school choice and charter schools.