To the 3rd Congressional District: We can do better |

To the 3rd Congressional District: We can do better

Joyce Rankin
Across the Street
Joyce Rankin
Larry Laszlo |

School is out, let the vacation begin.

A lot has happened since the legislative session ended on May 11. Bob (Rep. Rankin) and I had a vacation lined up celebrating the end of another busy term at the Capitol. On the first day I received a call from the education department stating that the commissioner had resigned and we had to attend, the next day, an emergency meeting to accept his resignation. Fortunately, I was able to “call in” when the vote was taken. The deputy commissioner, Dr. Katy Anthes, agreed to stand in during the transition so things continue to move smoothly within the department. The state board has been great to work with, and I’m confident my colleagues and I will move through the process as they find a new commissioner. Stay tuned for updates.

I was happy to learn that two of the summer board meetings are in my district, last week in Pueblo and August in Grand Junction. Meetings are open to the public. Come join us.

Highlights of the Pueblo board meeting include a presentation by Pueblo 60 school district of its request for an Innovation Zone plan. The district wants to add three schools to the existing three schools already on innovation status to create an Innovation Zone. An Innovation Zone provides additional flexibility and local control to schools for the purpose of meeting individual student needs. The board will be focusing on whether the new plan will ensure academic growth and whether it is fiscally feasible

I was happy to be able to spend a day in Grand Junction with Steve Schultz, superintendent of Mesa County district 51. I attended a graduation and saw the innovative new strategies that the district is pursuing. I’m convinced that they will lead the state in the adoption of exciting new student-based techniques.

In December 2015 President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law, which begins in the 2017-18 school year. During the month of May the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) began a listening tour throughout the state facilitating community discussions about standards, assessments, accountability and support for students and parents as the program is rolled out. While the ESSA does seem to offer more flexibility, there will still be concerns over the amount of federal control being exercised over our local schools.

We all want opportunity for our students through our public schools. We know what works from some very good examples right here in Colorado. I’m dedicated to making extraordinary opportunities available to every student in my district. We can do better.

Joyce Rankin is a member of the State Board of Education. “Across the Street” will appear monthly.

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