Across the Street column: Go big, go bold in education in 2017 | PostIndependent.com

Across the Street column: Go big, go bold in education in 2017

Joyce Rankin
Across the Street
Joyce Rankin
Larry Laszlo |

“Go big, go bold!” That was the message I heard at the Excellence in Education conference (Excelined) that I attended in Washington, D.C., last week. I passed that inspirational saying along to local school board members at the Colorado Association of School Boards meeting in Colorado Springs this past weekend. We don’t know the details of the direction that the new federal administration will take, but local school boards should be ready and take advantage of every opportunity to better serve their students and taxpayers.

The State Board of Education will confront several challenges in the upcoming year including: choosing a new commissioner, evaluating schools and districts that need dramatic academic improvement, revisiting state academic standards, and swearing in two newly elected state board members and electing a chair and vice chair of the state board. In order to better serve the students in Colorado I hope we “Go big, go bold.”

Our K-12 system may need more funding, but great districts in western Colorado with great leaders are accomplishing amazing things with the funding they have. I’ve enjoyed getting to know and represent them. I’m inspired by ideas that I hear about at national and state level conferences, but I’m even more excited to hear about the successes that some of our local schools are achieving.

Local school boards are improving their academic goals and achievements by learning from those districts that are experiencing great success. One of the districts in western Colorado that recently received the highest district rating, accredited with distinction, was Hinsdale County School District led by Superintendent Leslie Nichols. Her school in Lake City has only 110 students. The 2016 designation has continued since 2009. What is this small district doing that might be duplicated in other, larger school districts?

As we look forward to upcoming educational challenges, let’s not forget the opportunities that will present themselves in 2017. Let’s embrace the change and “Go big, go bold!”

Joyce Rankin was newly elected in November to serve on the State Board of Education representing the 3rd Congressional District. She writes the monthly column Across the Street. The Department of Education, where the State Board of Education meets, is located across the street from the Capitol. She is also a legislative aide at the Capitol for Rep. Bob Rankin, House District 57.