Update, 5:10 PM Extra audio added.
So some of you may have been missing me since a couple days ago when I asked a dozen questions regarding the major school finance bill, SB 213. Many of my questions remain unanswered, and the first committee vote on the bill itself isn’t slated until this afternoon. But a couple interesting conversations sprung up around the first question I asked:
To what extent does the legislation provide for true course-level choice?
Especially since it won’t go into effect unless voters approve a billion-dollar tax hike this November. That’s when I saw a document handed out by state senator Michael Johnston‘s office to explain the bill. On page 3 in the left-hand column it lists “High School Voucher for 9-12″ as a component of base funding in the newly proposed formula.
Well, you can guess that perked up my hopes, the idea that a new school finance system might offer students breakthrough opportunities to take a portion of their funding and choose courses from private schools or other providers. At Tuesday’s nine-hour marathon hearing, dozens of witnesses came before the Senate Education Committee. Senator Scott Renfroe (R-Greeley) surprised one of them, CEA executive director Tony Salazar, by asking about the concept of “high school vouchers.”
Johnston chimed in to point out that was not the intention of the bill, which culminated in a “you said-you said” disagreement between Johnston and Renfroe and the teachers union leader reiterating his organization’s opposition to the idea of private school choice. (Listen to the 5-minute audio clip here.) Continue Reading »