8th 2013
Looming Legislative Session Evokes More Heartburn than Hope for K-12 Issues

Posted under Denver & Early Childhood & Education Politics & Innovation and Reform & Online Schools & Parents & School Accountability & School Choice & School Finance & State Legislature & Teachers

Run for cover, and hold onto your wallets! Tomorrow marks the beginning of the first session of the 69th Colorado General Assembly. At first, I thought about just re-posting last year’s pre-session warning. Yet while there may be some similarities between 2012 and 2013, it would end up being a lazy thing to do, and less than accurate to boot.

At the risk of being repetitive, though, I first will point readers to the legislative preview by Ed News Colorado’s Todd Engdahl. He notes that:

The question of school finance is expected to overshadow all other education issues. Democratic Sens. Mike Johnston of Denver and Rollie Heath of Boulder are crafting a plan that would significantly overhaul the school funding formula – contingent on subsequent voter approval of new revenues for schools.

A big looming question then is just how significant the proposed school finance changes will be. If they’re not pushing toward real student-centered backpack funding — as Senator Johnston and others discussed last month at a packed Capitol event — then selling voters on a tax hike will become that much more difficult. While the statehouse shouldn’t be as consumed with K-12 education issues last year, Engdahl does point out some you can expect to see on the docket, some of which could be good:

  • Updating teacher licensure to mesh with changes to evaluation and tenure
  • Revisiting earlier attempts to expand educational options through the “parent trigger” or the tax code
  • Reining in the BEST school construction grant program
  • Allowing teachers greater flexibility regarding professional or union membership

And then there are other proposals being floated around that give me the 5-year-old equivalent of heartburn:

  • Creating union bargaining requirements for school districts
  • Attempting to further delay implementation of evaluation reforms
  • Modifying accountability systems for struggling schools
  • Reconfiguring state bureaucratic oversight of early childhood education
  • Expanding government-delivered school breakfast programs
  • Adding regulations to full-time online schools

Finally, some ideas mentioned in Engdahl’s piece have me truly reserving judgment at this point:

  • Enhancing school security in light of recent tragic events
  • Rethinking aspects of the state assessment system
  • Confronting problems with student truancy
  • Having “some serious conversations about sex ed” (don’t ask me)

The next 13 weeks could prove to be a genuinely trying time, both for students working through the heart of a challenging school year and for all of us enduring potential attacks from the State Capitol. Buckle up for a bumpy ride!

1 Comment »

One Response to “Looming Legislative Session Evokes More Heartburn than Hope for K-12 Issues”

  1. Ed is Watching » Wonks Want to Know: Will Colorado Figure Out the Teacher Licensure Connection? on 14 Nov 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    [...] education issue being talked up for next year’s legislative session is teacher licensure. (It was supposed to be last year, but kind of got lost in the shuffle with that whole Senate Bill 213 [...]

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