On first day for most Denver schools, gubernatorial candidate Michael Johnston calls for better school funding

Colorado Democratic gubernatorial candidate Michael Johnston sent his son Emmett back to school Monday — and sent a message to voters at the same time about one of his longtime causes.

Former state Sen. Michael Johnston's children listen to him announce his gubernatorial bid. (Nic Garcia/Chalkbeat)
Former state Sen. Michael Johnston's children listen to him announce his gubernatorial bid. (Nic Garcia/Chalkbeat)
Former state Sen. Michael Johnston’s children listen to him announce his gubernatorial bid. (Nic Garcia/Chalkbeat)

By Nic GarciaChalkbeat

Colorado Democratic gubernatorial candidate Michael Johnston sent his son Emmett back to school Monday — and sent a message to voters at the same time about one of his longtime causes.

On the first day of school for most Denver students, Johnston recorded a video of his son carting off two large cardboard boxes full of supplies. In the video posted to Twitter, the former state senator called it another example of how Colorado is shortchanging its public schools.

“People often ask what does it mean to have cuts to the statewide budget to education,” he said.  “Well it means a lot of those bills get passed on to parents and to kids who have to bring their own paper towels, their own wipes, their own crayons, their own boxes.”

Johnston, a national figure in the education reform movement, led an unsuccessful push to increase taxes for schools in 2013.

“We count ourselves lucky,” Johnston said in the video, adding that knows many families in Denver often feel the pinch of buying new school supplies and fees. “We think the state has an obligation to do better.”

Though the governor’s race is in its early stages, back-to-school season is a logical time for candidates to take out education positions. Earlier Monday, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, who is also running, released an online ad spotlighting his pledge to expand full-day kindergarten and preschool.

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.