U.S. Representative Jared Polis


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Jared is a senior member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, founder of two public charter school networks, and former Chairman of the Colorado State Board of Education. He uses his business background, education policy knowledge, and school leadership experience to work with his colleagues to improve and better fund our public schools. Jared believes that building an excellent public education system that provides each and every child with the opportunity to succeed is the best possible investment in America’s future. In order for our nation to thrive in a global economy, America needs to prepare our children with the skills and knowledge necessary to compete and succeed.

Improving education, from preschool through college, must be at the top of the nation’s policy agenda. We need an entrepreneurial approach to solving the pressing problems facing public schools tied with increased investment.  With bold ideas and decisive action, we can ensure America’s long-term prosperity and launch a new era of innovation and progress.

Early Childhood Education

The first years are the most critical for a child’s development, both cognitively and emotionally. Studies have confirmed that serious academic underperformance and behavioral problems, which often appear later in life, could be largely prevented by quality early childhood education. 

Universal access to preschool and other early childhood education programs would improve the educational outcomes and achievement of all children, while saving taxpayers billions that are currently spent addressing the many negative consequences of a poor education: for every dollar we invest in quality early childhood education programs, the estimated return ranges from $7-10. If human capital investments are the key to the future, then investment in early childhood education is the best and safest approach for realizing the highest returns possible.

K-12 Education

The federal government made its first major investment in K-12 education in 1965 with the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which was seen then, and now, as a key piece of civil rights legislation. This commitment to civil rights drives Jared’s work in K-12 education policy.

This new law, while not perfect, includes many (but not all) of Jared’s priorities and moves beyond the outdated, rigid policies of No Child Left Behind and give more decision-making power back to states and districts. At the same time, the law maintains a practical level of federal involvement to ensure states are held accountable for meeting the needs of every student. It also makes key investments in teacher professional development, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) programs and dual enrollment.

Jared played a key role in the reauthorization of ESEA, now known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This Congress, he serves as Ranking Member of the Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee on the Education and Workforce Committee, where he helps lead oversight of the Department of Education’s implementation of ESSA. 

In addition to his work on ESEA, Jared is committed to protecting each student’s right to privacy. In 2015, he introduced the bipartisan Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act, which will prevent education technology providers from misusing or selling sensitive student data. The bill is a monumental piece of student data privacy legislation and has the support of dozens of privacy, technology, and education organizations.

College and Community College

In today’s economy, education beyond high school is more important than ever. Jared believes that postsecondary education – whether at a four-year institution like the University of Colorado-Boulder or Colorado State University, or at a community college like Front Range and Colorado Mountain College – must be within reach for all, regardless of background or circumstances.

Today’s students are faced with an unprecedented amount of student debt. The average borrower in Colorado leaves school with nearly $25,000 in debt. Jared has proposed commonsense, innovative solutions to help lower the cost of college and reduce the burden of debt. His Affordable College Textbooks Act supports the adoption of open textbooks: high-quality, free books that can reduce the price of a college degree by thousands of dollars. He also introduced the bipartisan ExCEL Act, which streamlines the complicated student loan process and pegs graduates’ repayments to an affordable percentage of their income until the loan is repaid. Under the ExCEL Act, graduates pay nothing during periods of unemployment and pay more throughout their careers as their incomes rise – without any additional paperwork, since payments would be deducted automatically from their paychecks.

The average classroom today doesn’t look how it did 20 years ago. Many students are taking courses online, attending part-time, and enrolling in college as adults. Federal higher education policy should stay relevant and provide students and schools with the flexibility they need. Jared has led initiatives in support of competency-based education, which allows students to advance through their degree based on what they know, instead of the amount of time they spend in a classroom.

An early start to college is one of the most effective ways to increase college access and completion. Jared supports summer learning and college-level coursework in high schools through Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate, and he’s a strong advocate for dual and concurrent enrollment. He introduced the Making Education Affordable and Accessible Act, which will create more opportunities for students to earn college credit in high school. He also supports increasing access to programs like the Federal TRIO Programs, which serve students from disadvantaged backgrounds in high school through college.

Jared also led efforts to reform the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). He introduced a bill that passed the House of Representatives that would allow students to complete their application in October the year before they go to college (known as prior-prior year). The bill will also allow students to link their tax information to the FAFSA using the data retrieval tool, so completing the form will be faster and easier. 


In addition to his policy initiatives, Jared advocates for increased across-the-board funding for education programs. Since its creation, the federal government has failed to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA), and Jared is leading the effort to finally give this program the resources it needs by introducing legislation to fully fund IDEA. Jared also supports increased funding for high-quality early education; Title I, which provides high-needs K-12 schools with additional funds; and Pell grants, which help make college more attainable for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

For more information on education, please contact Bo Morris in the Washington office. You can also visit Congressman Polis' Legislation Page or find information on bills and amendments that he’s cosponsored in Congress.

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