Across the Street column: From top down to bottom up?
Across the Street
Thank you for the honor to serve on the State Board of Education for the 3rd Congressional District. I appreciate each and every one of the 194,116 of you who gave me your vote and support. Thank you all.
We’ve been hearing for the past year campaign rhetoric from a national perspective. But what affects us most in our daily lives is government at the local level. County commissioners, city council members, local school boards, home owners associations, etc., made up of our neighbors and fellow citizens make decisions that impact our personal lives. Many of these local commissions/appointments are staffed by volunteers, much like my job on the State Board of Education representing the 3rd Congressional District. To those who have served or are beginning to serve on these local governing bodies, I commend you and thank you.
Community members step up to run for volunteer positions for two basic reasons: They believe they can make a difference, and they have a desire to serve. Making the decision to run is not easy, and serving can be difficult, contentious and stressful. The rewards are when one constituent steps up and says thank you. Rewards also come when people come together to solve problems that affect the whole community.
Now that the national election is over, what issues confront education in Colorado and my board?
Recently the state board has been focusing on three things:
• Appointing a new state commissioner of education. As you recall we did that last January and after five months, Rich Crandall, our new commissioner abruptly left. The interim commissioner, Katy Anthes, has agreed to stay on until a new commissioner is selected. The selection process will begin in January.
• Secondly, the board is studying ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act). This is the federal policy governing K-12 education and requiring standardized testing and grade level standards. A committee is currently looking at every aspect of the program for revisions or updates. The state board is informed of these at our monthly meetings.
• The third major focus is directed at renewing the contract with Pearson, the company creating the mandated, government-approved exams used in Colorado.
While we work on these, and other, issues at the state level, there are potential impacts from policies that been voiced by President-elect Trump. On his website, President-elect Trump points out his key educational issues:
• We spend more per student than almost any other major country in the world. He would like to bring the current federal government spending and mandates back to state control.
• Our students continue to lag behind their peers worldwide in knowledge gained. This is unacceptable.
• School choice is vital to reverse inequities in education and failing government schools.
It’s an interesting time to be a part of K-12 educational policy in Colorado. Although I work on state issues I have an eye on the national educational direction. How this affects schools, students and parents is yet to be known. What I do know is that students and their education will continue to be my first concern. Their education is our future.
Joyce Rankin is a member of the State Board of Education. “Across the Street” will appear monthly.
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