If the states are the test tubes of democracy, the Colorado legislature is the Bunsen burner for the school-choice movement. The state will be the first to implement a school-voucher program since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Cleveland's school-voucher program last summer.
The bill would allow parents with children in poorly rated public schools to spend between $5,000 and $6,000 in taxpayer funds at the private school of their choice. Legislators will review the pilot program in 2008.
The plan grew popular when Colorado began to rate its public schools two years ago. The state had the option of closing poorly performing schools, but state officials found some low-income students had no options other than the local public school.
Republican Gov. Bill Owens campaigned for vouchers as a legislator. "It sends a powerful message that our education system exists for one simple reason, to provide access to a quality education for every child," said Gov. Owens. Opponents of the bill noted that Colorado voters have twice voted down voucher programs in referenda.