As a native to Colorado, I remember exactly where I was downtown at the 16th street mall on the day of the Columbine shooting. It was a horrific tragedy that took place 20 years ago that has forever impacted our state.

The impact

Of course at the time, we had no awareness that this horror and tragedy was going to become a new norm. In the 20 years since then, there have been 270 shootings in schools and on college campuses across America. 270. Contemporary students are now dealing with all of the regular pressures and challenges of growing up that you and I dealt with, on top of new pressures like cyber bullying, how to navigate social media, and school lockdowns becoming the norm for kids like my daughters. The norm. So many of our children are going to school not feeling physically safe that it’s remarkably anxiety provoking and just one more thing they have to deal with on top of the other stressors of being a kid.

Anxiety in our kiddos is on the rise

There is clear and consistent data that the prevalence of anxiety among our kids is on the rise. Now, if we had any psychological awareness or made any emotionally intelligent decisions about our school funding, we would look at what contemporary kids are up against, look at the fact that they are not mentally well, look at how their anxiety is through the roof, and we would make school funding choices to give them greater supports. But, no. What my darling state has done is taking more and more funding out of our public schools over the past few decades. So now if you factor in the incredible cost of living here in the front range, the salaries we’re paying our teachers in Colorado actually rank dead last in the nation. That’s making it harder for us to retain really experienced teachers, naturally.

Why does it matter?

The reason why it matters that we have qualified mental health professionals in our public schools is because not every child has parents who are paying attention or even recognize when they’re struggling. As our teachers stage protests to demand better wages, I hope you’ll consider how under-funding our schools and school professionals is negatively impacting our kid’s emotional well-being.

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