Across the Street column: Checking in on education legislation
Across the Street
The session ended on May 9. Following a short vacation, I had time to reread some of the legislation that passed and failed during the 2018 legislative session. There were 71 education bills of interest to the State Board. Forty-five of these bills passed, and 26 failed. Forty-one bills require rule making and implementation from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) or from the State Board.
Four digit bills originated in the House of Representatives, three digit bills originated in the Senate. The year the bill is introduced is the first number. Many of you are now thinking “I knew that.”
Highlights from the 2018 session include House Bill 18-1355, the Public Education Accountability Bill. This was a bill submitted by the Colorado Department of Education (CDOE) at the request of the State Board. It addresses the basic dilemma of turn-around schools, those schools failing evaluations for five consecutive years. What happens after year five, after the board makes improvement decisions? This was the question the State Board was asking and the Legislature tackled in 2018. The bill allows the department to track students’ progress and make further recommendations to the board if students continue to fail. The schools will be held accountable for the additional grants and support received in their school improvement efforts. Implementation of the bill will be accomplished through rule making without additional funding.
HB 18-1412 – Retaining Teacher Grant Programs. CDE will review the effectiveness of three-year grants, and the State Board will vote on their renewal. The department will submit reports to the State Board and to the General Assembly. Frequently grants are given without follow-up for accountability. I like the opportunity to review these grants.
HB 18-1269 addressed Parent Notification for Safety and Protection. This bill requires local education providers (principals and teachers) to notify parents of charges brought against an employee or former employee of any felony offense that requires denial, suspension or revocation of a teacher license.
This year also brought forth yet another bill addressing marijuana. HB 18-1286 will allow medical marijuana to be given to a student while at school. The school principal and child’s parents must sign a written agreement that allows for medical marijuana to be dispensed by school personnel. The new legislation would not apply if the schools can demonstrate that they would lose federal funding if enacted. Parents must provide medical documentation and supply the product daily.
SB18-011 Students excused from taking state tests. If parents excuse their child from state assessments, the school cannot prohibit the student from participating in an activity or any other form of award for taking the test. This bill is also known as the “Pizza Party Bill” because of a party that was given only to those students who had taken state tests.
These are just a few of the bills passing through the Legislature during the 2018 session. One of the major responsibilities of the State Board is to make rules in order to implement the legislation. We’ll be involved in this process at our future board meetings. Meanwhile, I’ll see you in the parades, picnics, rodeos and summertime activities throughout the district. It continues to be an honor to represent you on the State Board of Education.
Joyce Rankin is a member of the State Board of Education. The Department of Education is located across the street from the Capitol. “Across the Street” will appear monthly.
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Only two weeks into the Colorado legislative session, local representatives can see the lines between Republicans and Democrats, as well as common ground.