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Across the Street column: Busy year expected for State Board of Education

Joyce Rankin

Happy new year, and what a year it is shaping up to be. While President-elect Trump is poised to take office this month, and we expect changes, there are big things close to home that are beginning to unfold including bills in the state Legislature and action at the State Board of Education.

We constantly encounter new experiences in our jobs. Last week Bob and I were interviewed by KDNK, our local radio station. This is the first time we have been interviewed together, and it was an interesting experience. You never know what might happen or, worse, what you might say in an interview. Bob, having more experience and being up to date on budget issues was able to explain, from a high level, the state of the budget and some of the challenges this year with health care and education. I, with notes in hand, and little experience, answered questions about my district and upcoming events and issues at the state board. Interviewer Amy Marsh had done her homework and asked some very thought-provoking questions.

One question involved the expected dynamic of the state board after flipping from 4/3 Republican to 4/3 Democrat majority. With a seven member board, one representing each congressional district, the new chair will be from the Democratic Party. From my first board meeting I've always been impressed by the way the board votes on issues affecting students regardless of party affiliation. Seldom do we vote along party lines. This is because we all want the very best education possible for Colorado students. Defining the "best education" can vary, yet many times we agree that students come first.

January 11 is the first day of the legislative session. I'll be sworn into office about 9 a.m. along with two other newly elected board members. We will immediately go into our first meeting, elect a committee chair and vice chair and proceed with business. Our two-day meeting agenda is already full.

The Legislature also will be sworn in that morning at about 10:30. I've been excused from a part of our board meeting while I run "across the street" and watch as Bob is sworn in for his third term in office. We will both be involved in our respective sessions the rest of the day.

The state board will have a busy year making decisions for turnaround schools, reviewing the academic standards for all grade levels, and determining what test might replace the overly burdensome PARCC (Partnership for Assessment for College and Careers) test. We have a lot of work ahead of us.

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So as we await the direction of the national political scene and begin the new year, let's keep an eye on education and some of the issues closer to home.

I look forward to the upcoming year with optimism and enthusiasm, and I'm honored for the opportunity to serve.

Joyce Rankin was elected last November to the State Board of Education representing the 3rd Congressional District. The Department of Education, where the State Board of Education meets, is located across the street from the Capitol. She is married to Rep. Bob Rankin, House District 57.