Rep. Rankin to co-chair Ed. Leadership Council | PostIndependent.com

Rep. Rankin to co-chair Ed. Leadership Council

Rep. Bob Rankin

Garfield County’s representative in the Colorado Legislature will help lead an effort to develop a long-range vision to improve education at all levels in the state.

Gov. John Hickenlooper this week signed an executive order to redesign the state’s Education Leadership Council (ELC) with a new charge to create a strategic plan that will touch on all levels of education, from preschool through college and even continuing adult education.

Rep. Bob Rankin of Carbondale, who represents the state’s 57th District, covering Garfield, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties, has been asked to co-chair the revamped ELC along with Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne. Lynne is a Democrat and Rankin a Republican.

“Our education system is a very large and important part of what we do in state government, and it needs an overarching strategy so our individual efforts fit that vision of where we’re trying to go,” Rankin said Friday.

The process is designed to reach out to experts in early childhood, primary, secondary and higher education, as well as business and government, he said.

“We want to give voice to the experts in the field and collect the best of what they are doing, and the best of what people envision for the future, and put it all together,” Rankin said.

Rankin said he and others will also work to make sure the plan has a statewide focus, “and is not something that is developed in Denver and pushed out to the rest of the state.”

The ELC was established in 2011 to provide a forum to discuss statewide education issues. It’s new charge is much more specific, Hickenlooper said in news release announcing the effort.

“We’re pulling together many of the best minds in education, government and workforce to create a broad strategic vision that includes all levels of education,” he said.

The ELC will start meeting later this summer to begin developing a vision, strategic plan and recommendations for consideration by the governor and General Assembly.

Utilizing existing data from the Colorado Department of Education and Colorado Department of Higher Education, it will benchmark Colorado’s performance against other states and countries, and create a structure to gather feedback from parents, teachers, students, special needs populations, community leaders and education interest groups. It will also work to develop potential legislative and budgetary strategies.

The ELC will be housed under the lieutenant governor’s office.

“Children are our greatest resource,” Lynne said in the release. “We owe it to them to ensure they have every chance to succeed and that means closing our education attainment gaps which will improve graduation rates and ensure we have a highly trained workforce.”

Rankin said some short-term recommendations may be ready for the legislature to consider next session, but the work is expected to continue over a period of several years.

“We hope this will be something that can be presented in many different forms and be a way of guiding a longer-term vision for eduction in Colorado,” he said. “We also want it to be some that parents and constituents can buy into.”

In addition to Rankin, four other legislators, both Republican and Democrat, are on the committee of approximately 25 people who will be guiding the work.

Among the other state officials who will be on the ELC will be state Education Commissioner Katy Anthes and a representative from the state Board of Education, on which Rankin’s wife, Joyce Rankin, serves.