These are all of the Education bills proposed in the 2019 session. Each bill has its own bill number, please use your browser search feature to find the bill you are interested in. Return to the Colorado home page to pick a different bill category.

None of the text is the opinion of Engage. Each bill's description, arguments for, and arguments against are our best effort at describing what each bill does, arguments for, and arguments against the bill. The long description is hidden by design, you can click on it to expand it if you want to read more detail about the bill.  If you believe we are missing something, please contact us with your suggestion. Some of these bills have the notation that they have been sent to the chamber's "kill" committee. This means that the leadership has decided to send the bill to the State committee even though it does not belong there based on its subject matter. This committee, in both chambers, is stacked with members from "safe" districts and the idea is to kill the bill without forcing any less safe members to take a hard vote. It is possible for a bill to survive the kill committee, but it is very rare.

Prime sponsors are given after each bill, with Senate sponsors in () and House sponsors in []. They are color-coded by party.

Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Major, Medium, Minor, and Technical. This is a combination of the change the bill would create and the "controversy" level of the bill. Some minor bills that are extending current programs would be major changes if they were introducing something new, but the entire goal here is to allow you to better curate your time. Something uncontroversial likely to pass nearly unanimously that continues a past program may not be worth your time (and please remember, you can still read all of the minor bills!). Technical bills are here to round out the list. They are non-substantive changes.

HB19-1002 Leadership Professional Development for School Principals (Zenzinger) [McLachlan, Wilson]

Short Description:

Creates a leadership pilot program for K-12 principals that will allow principals in the state to interact with high-quality principals in such a way that they can learn the critical practices of the high-quality principals.

Long Description:

Creates a leadership pilot program for K-12 principals. Directs the department of education to create and implement the program. It must include identifying high-quality principals and the opportunity for other principals in the state to interact with them in such a way that they can learn the critical practices of the high-quality principals. Report due in 2021, at which time the legislature will decide if the program should continue.

Arguments For:

One of the most cited factors for teachers leaving a school is the quality of the school’s leadership. As we face critical teacher shortages around the state, we must look to the high achievers to help mentor those that need it. It’s a simple and effective way to spread best practices around the state. The voluntary nature of the program will set it up to succeed: people tend to be more invested in choices they make rather than things that are forced upon them. Vesting the department of education with the actual construction, rather than using legislative fiat, also makes it more likely to be successful. Trust the experts.

Arguments Against:

This bill sets up a structure whereby the department of education selects those it deems to be the “high-quality” principals, without any outside guidance on what this should mean, and then all of the other principals are offered the opportunity to apply for the program to go learn from their better performing peers. What this ignores is human nature: most of don’t think we’re bad at our job. Furthermore, we tend to think people who are singled out as being better than us in our field don’t deserve it. Right or wrong, that’s how people work. So this well-intentioned plan is likely to fail and cost us taxpayer money in the process.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1002
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HB19-1005 Income Tax Credit for Early Childhood Educators (Priola, Todd) [Wilson, Buckner]

Short Description:

Provides a temporary state income tax credit to early childhood educators who hold various levels of state professional credentials (higher the credential higher the tax credit).

Long Description:

The bill provides these tax credits provided the educator, for at least ½ the year, is either the head of a family child care home (a facility licensed by the state) or employed within a family child care home or a program that has achieved at least a level two quality rating in the Colorado Shines program. There are six possible credentials and the tax credit ranges from $500 for level 1 to $3,000 for level 6. It is tied to inflation. The educator earns the credit for holding the credential, not for earning it.

Arguments For:

Research has shown that early childhood education can be very beneficial for later life success. Yet it remains an area we don’t put enough resources into. The Department of Human Services reports that as of September 2018 only 47% of early childhood professionals would satisfy the criteria for the credit (that is they both work more than half the year in an eligible facility and have a credential). This functions as an encouragement for more people to enter the field and for those in the field to become better educators. Since it is a short-term and self-ending program, it’s not a permanent subsidy. It’s designed to get people in and get them to level up, then end. Making the credit permanent is likely to hit a point of severely diminishing returns, where we are simply subsidizing this profession. Making it apply only to the actual acquisition of the credential (as opposed to having it) severely disadvantages those who have already put in the effort to achieve their credentialed status.

Arguments Against:

A short-term tax break probably isn’t going to make people chose this field as a profession. That leaves the idea of improving current teachers. There is also significant research that shows that the scholastic advantages early-childhood educated kids come into school with vanish by 2nd or 3rd grade. Early childhood education helps not because of the great teaching kids get but because of the advantage it gives the family of reliable daycare with meals, health screenings, and other social services. So the goal shouldn’t be to make “better” early childcare but just have more of it. While it’s not a lot of total money spent, the money spent in this bill could be doing that instead.

If we really want to get people to enter this field and stay in it, we need longer term tax relief (the credits could be smaller) to entice people. If it is such an important profession perhaps it deserves a small state subsidy, especially as compared to the giant state subsidy we give K-12 by paying for much of it.

If the goal is to get people to increase their certification, the tax credit should only apply if they obtain the certification, not just hold it. Someone with a level II certification could rack up $1,000 a year of tax credits without doing anything new.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1005
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HB19-1008 Include Career and Technical Education in Building Excellent Schools Today Program (Todd, Lundeen) [Kraft-Tharp, Larson]

Short Description:

Allows the public school capital construction assistance board, which manages the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) fund, to award grants that support career and technical education capital construction in schools.

Long description:

Allows the public school capital construction assistance board, which manages the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) fund, to award grants that support career and technical education capital construction in schools. This is defined as new construction or retrofitting of public school facilities for certain career and technical education programs (those identified as a key industry in the most recent Colorado talent report produced by the state) and equipment necessary for individual and classroom instruction. This grant program is designed to repair or replace the state’s most needy public school facilities. In 2016-17 the program awarded over $219 million in grants (including matching funds).

Arguments For:

The goal of the BEST fund is to upgrade our schools via capital intensive projects the districts would have a hard time pursuing themselves without large local bond issues. It makes sense to fold into this mission upgrading our school facilities so as to more effectively teach skills required in key statewide industries. The goal of K-12 school cannot only be to prepare someone for college but also to prepare them to work in a promising field that will provide them with a career.

Arguments Against:

This twists the purpose of BEST too far toward career and technical education and away from its core mission of improving crumbling state school facilities. In a world of limited resources, we need to prioritize basics first.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1008
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HB19-1017 Kindergarten Through Fifth Grade Social and Emotional Health Act (Fields) [Michaelson Jenet]

Short Description:

Creates a pilot program in a Colorado school district to ensure that a school social worker is dedicated to each of the grades kindergarten through fifth grade.

Long description:

Creates a pilot program in a Colorado school district to ensure that a school social worker is dedicated to each of the grades kindergarten through fifth grade. Pilot district will be chosen by criteria outlined in bill: high poverty, ethnic diversity, and large concentration of students in foster care system. Pilot program to begin in 2020 and end in 2027. The extent possible social workers are to follow the same students through all of elementary school. Social workers are to help identify learning disabilities, conduct functional behavior assessments and development intervention plans, identify food insecurities, and help students and families access public benefits. All services must be performed at school and during school hours to the extent possible, but home visits are authorized where appropriate and consistent with licensure. Education department to report back the results of the program to the legislature via a professional program evaluator, in a preliminary report in 2024 and final report in 2027.

Arguments For:

Identifying students with safety net insecurities, social and emotional skills deficits, learning disabilities, instances of abuse and neglect and mental health challenges as early as possible increases the likelihood that problems can be resolved successfully. A trained social worker is best positioned to make sure that elementary age students receive the right level of services in the right place at the right time as well as removing the burden from teachers to be everything from a therapist to family counselor.

Arguments Against:

A massive state intrusion into families’ lives is not an appropriate use of our resources. Assigning every elementary student in a school district a social worker to poke and prod into their life situation puts an unreasonable burden on our families. By all means have more social support available for students who need it but it should proceed from a school official noting a problem rather than a dedicated employee looking for them.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1017
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HB19-1032 Comprehensive Human Sexuality Education (Todd, Coram) [Lontine]

Short Description:

Clarifies the content requirements for public schools that offer comprehensive sex education, including prohibitions on explicit religious ideological teaching, shame based instruction, excluding LGBTQ, and abstinence as the primary or only method of sexual transmitted disease and pregnancy prevention.

Long Description:

Clarifies the content requirements for public schools that offer comprehensive sex education, including prohibitions on explicit religious ideological teaching, shame based instruction, excluding LGBTQ, and abstinence as the primary or only method of sexual transmitted disease and pregnancy prevention. Instruction must include: medically accurate information about all preventative methods for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy, promote the development of safe and healthy relationships free of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and violence, including a heavy emphasis on consent in sexual relationships, how alcohol and drug use can effect decision making, and if the school opts to provide pregnancy outcome options, it must cover all options including adoption, abortion and parenting and cannot favor one over the other. Bill also provides instructions for school notification to parents and parental ability to opt out.

Arguments For:

All Colorado youth have the right to receive medically accurate information about their sexual health in order to empower them to make informed decisions that promote their physical, mental, and social-emotional well-being. Truly comprehensive sexual education fosters youth social-emotional health and well-being by teaching self-acceptance and respect for those whose sexuality, gender, gender expression, or lived experience differ from their own. That, along with making sure that we are giving students accurate tools to have the safest sexual experiences possible, whenever those occur, is what this bill is about. Students are going to have sex, we have plenty of evidence of that. Teaching them how to do it safely won’t cause more, it will just make it safer and hopefully also decrease sexual violence in childhood and beyond.

Arguments Against:

While this does have an opt-out feature, opting out is likely to stigmatize the student among his or her peers so we should focus on making sure that the curriculum is truly inclusive and one-size fits all. This bill fails at this task by going out of its way to downgrade any religious-based instruction, abstinence as the best method of prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy (it is, you can’t transmit a disease sexually or become pregnant if you don’t have sex), and most importantly, brainwashing our youth in liberal beliefs about human sexuality and LGBTQ individuals. It is for parents to decide on what they want their children exposed to and forcing a choice of social stigma or instruction against the parent’s will is not something the state should be doing.

This bill dances right up to the idea that comprehensive sexual education should be mandatory, noting that Colorado is one of only seven states that does not have a health graduation requirement, that 24 states plus DC mandate sexual education as a graduation requirement, and that 34 states plus DC mandate HIV education as a graduation requirement. But it doesn’t take the final step and make this mandatory.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1032
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HB19-1036 Annual Stipends for Certified School Professionals (Todd) [Arndt, McLachlan]

Short Description:

Adds nationally certified school psychologists as school professionals eligible for annual stipends awarded by the department of education, a program that already includes teachers and principals.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

These stipends exist to reward our school professionals for achieving and keeping national certification. It’s natural to extend it to school psychologists.

Arguments Against:

This was intended for teachers and principals, the primary educators of our children, not for those who help with their mental health. It should stay that way.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1036
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HB19-1052 Early Childhood Development Special District [Rankin, McCluskie]

Short Description:

Allows for the creation of early childhood development special districts, which can seek voter approval to levy property and sales taxes to generate revenues for early childhood development services.

Long description:

Allows for the creation of early childhood development special districts, which can seek voter approval to levy property and sales taxes to generate revenues for early childhood development services. These services are defined to include early care and educational, health, mental health, and developmental services from birth to age 8. These districts are authorized to contract with or work with another district or other provider of early childhood development services.

Arguments For:

Research has shown that early childhood education can be very beneficial for later life success. It also is a boon to working parents who need some form of safe childcare during working (and non-public school) hours. It is also critical for most childhood development problems to catch them early, the earlier the more likely they can mitigated. Yet resources are often lacking, particularly in rural areas. This bill allows communities to take matters into their own hands and specifically designate tax revenue to fill in the gaps.

Arguments Against:

We are trying to simplify our sales tax code right now, not add yet more complications to what is already perhaps the most complicated and cumbersome system in the United States. The need for businesses to collect sales tax based on where their customers live has been postponed but it is still coming. If the legislature wants to dedicate money toward better early childhood development across the state, it should do so out of its own significant coffers.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1052
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HB19-1053 Computer Science Courses Offered in Schools (Coram, Rodriguez) [Valdez, Catlin]

Short Description:

Requires all school districts, charter schools, and board of cooperative services that operate a high school or high school equivalent to annually report the computer science instructors and courses in the school and statistics about what students are taking them.

Long description:

Requires all school districts, charter schools, and board of cooperative services that operate a high school or high school equivalent to annually report the computer science instructors and courses in the school and statistics about what students are taking them. Instructor information must include gender, certifications, and degrees. Student information must include gender, race and ethnicity, special education status, English language learner status, and free or reduced-meal eligibility. The department will post this information online, unless there are too few students to protect individual student privacy.

Arguments For:

We must keep Colorado on the cutting edge of computer science teaching in high school to ensure that our students are prepared for not just the jobs of the future (and present) but also workplace environments. Computer literacy is a must for many careers. To know what, if anything, needs help and focus, we first need a basic understanding of the current situation. You cannot understand what is happening in a particular area unless you measure it, and that is what this bill does for the critical field of computer science.

Arguments Against:

Schools across the state have varying access to resources, both physical and teachers qualified to teach this subject. Rather than embarrass them with online reports, the state should be gathering information to help them access the resources they need.

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HB19-1055 Public School Cap Construction Financial Assistance [Bird]

Short Description:

Changes how the Marijuana excise tax (the tax charged on the first sale of cultivated marijuana to a retail store or place that manufactures marijuana products) is distributed by giving all of the excise money to the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) fund rather than the first $40 million or 90% (whichever is greater). Also changes the percentage allocated to charter schools by aligning it with student population.

Long Description:

Changes how the Marijuana excise tax (the tax charged on the first sale of cultivated marijuana to a retail store or place that manufactures marijuana products) is distributed by giving all of the excise money to the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) fund rather than the first $40 million or 90% (whichever is greater). Also gradually increases the maximum amount the BEST program can spend in annual lease payments from $100 million to $110 million. Also changes the percentage allocated to charter schools by aligning it with student population. Was a flat 12.5% of excise funds and $20 million for capital construction.

Arguments For:

This aligns us back with the intent of voters when marijuana was legalized in the state. The excise tax revenues for 2017 (more recent complete year) were nearly $72 million, which takes just over $5 million away from BEST under the current 90% rule. We continue to have massive school construction needs in the state and should devote more resources to them. We also should give charter schools their proportionate share, not a lump sum of the money.

Arguments Against:

That extra excise tax money still goes to schools, just not to school construction. So this bill would take away that $5 million from the money our state legislature gives to schools, money that is going to have to come from somewhere else. As for original intent, the original intent was that $40 million/90% rule. Obviously we are far past the $40 million in annual excise revenue, but the 90% clause shows that this possibility was foreseen and accounted for.

In a time where we owe our schools hundreds of millions of dollars, we need to be moving in the opposite direction and making sure we are funding basics so schools can be open all day, five days a week across the state before worrying about replacing facilities. Less money for the BEST program and more for general school funds is what is needed.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1055
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HB19-1059 Remove Redundant Language in Educator Licensing (Tate) [Arndt] TECHNICAL BILL

From the Statutory Revision Committee

Short Description:

Removes some redundant language regarding military spouse licensure for teaching in Colorado that occurred due to two separate bills in the 2018 session.

Long Description: n/a

HB19-1066 Counting Special Education in Graduation Rates [Buentello]

Short Description:

Clarifies that a student enrolled in special education services must be counted in the school, district, and state graduation rates for the year in which the student completes high school graduation requirements.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

Special needs students are still students and schools, districts, and the state should not be able to exclude them from any graduation statistics.

Arguments Against:

Special needs students are students but their special situation should not affect graduation rates.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1066

SB19-003 Educator Loan Forgiveness Program (Zenzinger, Coram) [McLachlan, Wilson]

Short Description:

Extends and alters the current teacher loan forgiveness program set to expire this June by removing requirement that teacher is a first-year teacher and removing requirement that school is in a high-poverty rural area. Also allows for 100 new applicants in the program each year. Increases the amount of forgiveness to $5,000 a year for up to five years.

Long Description:

Extends and alters the current teacher loan forgiveness program set to expire this June by removing requirement that teacher is a first-year teacher and removing requirement that school is in a high-poverty rural area (keeps rural requirement for geographic qualification, can also still qualify for a hard-to-staff position). Broadens “teacher” definition to educator and allows for 100 new applicants in the program each year. Gives prioritization criteria for commission to work through if more than 100 people apply. Increases the amount of forgiveness to $5,000 a year for up to five years (was $2,000 a year for up to three years previously). Keeps same provisions for educator’s position no longer qualifying for program (they get to stay if they stay in same position) and for educator transferring to non-qualified position (they have to leave program).

Arguments For:

Colorado still suffers from educator shortages in rural parts of the state as well as in a few key categories. The Department of Education and Department of Higher Education recommended loan forgiveness as a strategy to attract teachers to these hard-to-fill areas and positions. This bill continues a program in this vein but dramatically expands it by moving beyond just first-year teachers and by greatly increasing the financial value (up to $25,000 from $6,000 is a big deal). This should help these districts attract teachers who are still struggling with student debt but aren’t fresh out of school, in addition to the first-year teachers who can still qualify for the program. Capping it at 100 caps the state’s financial obligations, at $2.5 million a year.

Arguments Against:

While it is true that this is a much larger financial incentive, we need to face up to the fact that we’ve already got a multitude of smaller financial incentives that haven’t solved the problem and don’t address the fundamental issues that the Departments of Education and Higher Education identified: inadequate compensation and lack of affordable housing. Much larger financial commitments are going to be necessary to really solve this problem.

This bill does nothing to prevent an individual from taking $25,000 in loan forgiveness and then leaving the tough to fill position to go somewhere else.

The state government should not be in the business of subsidizing education in some parts of the state at the expense of others. People made the decision to live in a rural area and one of the consequences is poorer access to services.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-003
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SB19-009 Financial Incentives for Rural Educators (Todd) [McLachlan, Wilson]

Short Description:

Removes limits on number of stipends for students enrolled in teacher preparation programs who agree to teach in a rural school and number of stipends for educators in rural districts seeking certain certifications. Also increases student stipend from $2,800 to $4,000.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

Colorado still suffers from educator shortages in rural parts of the state, getting students in right after graduation is a chance to perhaps have them put down some roots in an area and stay there. Certainly you at least get two years out of them (the requirement to get the stipend). Anyone who leaves early has to pay money back.

Arguments Against:

The financial incentive is increased in this bill but we need to face up to the fact that we’ve already got a multitude of smaller financial incentives that haven’t solved the problem and don’t address the fundamental issues that the Departments of Education and Higher Education identified: inadequate compensation and lack of affordable housing. Much larger financial commitments are going to be necessary to really solve this problem.

This bill does nothing to prevent an individual from taking the money and then going somewhere else after two years.

The state government should not be in the business of subsidizing education in some parts of the state at the expense of others. People made the decision to live in a rural area and one of the consequences is poorer access to services.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-009
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SB19-022 Bonuses for Highly Effective Teachers (Lundeen)

Short Description:

Creates a highly effective teacher bonus and incentive program that allows public and charter schools to pay bonuses or provide employment incentives to teachers who rate as “highly effective” for the most recently completed school year by the state mandated performance evaluation system. School districts are given $20,000 and $850 per teacher in their district for the program.

Long description:

Creates a highly effective teacher bonus and incentive program that allows public and charter schools to pay bonuses or provide employment incentives to teachers who rate as “highly effective” for the most recently completed school year by the state mandated performance evaluation system. School districts are given $20,000 and $850 per teacher in their district for the program. With 196 districts and 54,598 teachers according to the Department of Education, that is $50.3 million annually. The money cannot be used for any other purpose and if there is not enough money allocated by the general assembly the amount distributed will be reduced proportionally. School districts must report how the money was used each year.

Arguments For:

We all recognize that some teachers are better than others, but the current remuneration system based on tenure makes it difficult to use money to try to keep or entice exceptional teachers. Since we already have an evaluation system, nothing more is needed to figure out who the exceptional teachers are, all we need is a way to reward them. That is what this bill provides, in an amount sufficient enough to really matter.

Arguments Against:

The teacher performance evaluation system is too flawed a base to place stakes this high on. For the most recent year we have data for, 2015-16, over 40% of all teachers were rated as highly effective. Instead of rewarding the very best teachers, we’re just going to be very slightly rewarding about 23,000 of them, which works out to just under $220 per teacher. The bill also does not specify what the school districts should do with unspent money, meaning it might not be returned to the state.

The entire thought process behind rating teachers is flawed, as is varying compensation levels based on any sort of evaluation system. Pay all of our teachers more money and we'll get better results.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-022
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SB19-025 Information to Students Regarding Safe Haven Laws (Smallwood)

*This bill has been assigned to the House State Affairs Kill Committee*

Short Description:

If a school district, charter school, or board of cooperative services offers comprehensive human sexuality education, the school must also include information about state laws that provide for the safe abandonment of newborns within 72 hours to specific people.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

If a school is going to teach about sex, it should also make sure students are aware of the ability to safely leave a newborn at certain locations. Some teens are not ready to become parents but don’t really realize this until after the baby is born. We should make sure they know all of their options. Much like sex education in general, you aren't going to be giving students ideas by making sure they understand their options.

Arguments Against:

Abandoning a baby is not part of the comprehensive sexual education we want to provide to our children. Teaching about the options of adoption, becoming a parent, and terminating the pregnancy are all part of a healthy adult's understanding of the potential consequences of sex and pregnancy. We have the safe harbor laws as a last resort and certainly can make sure that new teen mothers know about them, but not as part of a school curriculum.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-025
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SB19-033 Automatic Law Waivers for School Districts (Hill)

*Bill has been sent to House State Affairs Kill Committee*

Short Description:

Directs the state board of education to identify a list of statutes and rules for which a rural school district can invoke an automatic waiver. Waivers must be posted on the district’s website with a standardized explanation created by the state board.

Long Description:

Directs the state board of education to identify a list of statutes and rules for which a rural school district can invoke an automatic waiver. Waivers must be posted on the district’s website with a standardized explanation created by the state board. The list of statutes and rules that can be automatically waived is supposed to be created with the most requested current waivers from rural districts but cannot include waivers for the performance evaluation system for licensed personnel, procedures for competitive bidding, the annual school calendar and teacher-pupil contact hours, power to accept and expend gifts, donations or grants, and the employment of licensed personnel.

Arguments For:

There are multiple statutes and rules that just don’t work for rural districts, which is why we have a waiver process. For areas where waivers are usually requested and granted, it will be easier on all involved to have them be automatic. Since ultimate control over what is automatic is still vested in the state board of education, there is no worry about things being automatic that shouldn’t.

Arguments Against:

We already have a waiver process and it isn’t automatic for good reason. Every situation is different and there should be no blanket ability to get rid of a statute or rule that we as a state have decided is important for schools. The current situation is fine.

We shouldn't have these waivers at all, much less make them automatic. School statutes and rules are put in place for a good reason, because we want our children to learn in the best environment possible.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-033
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SB19-039 Interdistrict Transportation of Students (Story, Zenzinger) [Michaelson Jenet] TECHNICAL BILL

Short Description:

This bill restores the status quo prior to a bill passed at the end of the 2018 session which included a last second amendment that changed when a school district could offer transportation to a student outside the district. The new amendment was struck down by courts for violating the single-subject clause. This bill cleans up the statutes to comply with the court ruling.

SB19-048 Protect Students from Harmful Material (Holbert) [Ransom]

Short Description:

Requires all school districts to ensure that any database provided by an entity accessible to students is equipped with software or a filter device that prohibits access to material that is obscene to children and that each computer or other electronic device has the same software or filter. Also requires that an entity that provides electronically accessible materials to a school have the same ability to filter, with parents or guardians authorized to bring civil action against any entity that provides material through which a child views obscene material.

Long Description:

Requires all school districts to ensure that any database provided by an entity accessible to students is equipped with software or a filter device that prohibits access to material that is obscene to children and that each computer or other electronic device has the same software or filter. Also requires that an entity that provides electronically accessible materials to a school have the same ability to filter, with parents or guardians authorized to bring civil action against any entity that provides material through with a child views obscene material. Fine ranges from $1,000 to $5,000 or actual damages incurred, whichever is greater. Obscene is defined as any description or representation of sexually explicit nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sadomasochistic abuse that is patently offensive to the prevailing standards in the adult community with respect to what is suitable for children and is lacking in serious literary, artistic, political, and scientific value for children.


Arguments For:

Students should not be able to access explicit material at school. We all know there are mountains of it online, we need to make sure school districts have taken appropriate steps to prevent students, younger and teenage, from accessing it either on purpose or accidentally. The bill takes careful steps to ensure that legitimate works of literature, art, politics, or scientific value are excluded so we do not need to worry about censorship becoming a problem. We also unfortunately need to take a punitive, rather than corrective, approach because that is the incentive that people tend to respond to. If an entity knows that they could be facing legal action, they will make sure the job is done correctly. If they instead know they will just need to fix any problems that arise, they are far more likely to do a less thorough job. A less thorough job will mean someone’s children getting exposed to explicit materials.

Arguments Against:

The problem here is the classic definition of pornography by Justice Potter, that you know it when you see it. That definition is a nice turn of phrase, but it unfortunately founders on the fact that when it comes to literature and art, the boundaries are not quite so neat. Not to say that explicit sexual acts belong in front of teenagers, but what “explicit” means tends to vary depending on who you talk to. This bill uses the adult community as a barometer, but unfortunately we have a long history of attempting to ban books that are really nowhere near the edge and adult communities can vary wildly in their own beliefs. This bill specifically calls out actual or simulated acts of homosexuality and masturbation, as well as physical contact in an act of apparent sexual stimulation or gratification as part of banned sexual conduct. When you combine that with the definition of any description or representation, in whatever form as the medium, you get a recipe for trouble. And trouble in this case is the avalanche of civil lawsuits the bill authorizes. Note that the remedy here is not removal from the school or refining a filter. It is litigation with damages. Keeping explicit materials away from kids is certainly a good goal, but this bill isn’t the way to do it.

Censorship is un-American and we should not be pushing it onto our schools. Our culture is too prudish about sex and too protective of our kids when it comes to sex.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-048

SB19-059 Automatic Enrollment in Advanced Course Grant Program (Moreno)

Short Description:

Creates a grant program in the Department of Education to distribute funds to schools that automatically enroll qualified high school students into advanced courses. Also encourages schools to automatically enroll qualified 4th-8th grade students in advanced courses. Schools are required to permit parents to both remove their children from a particular class and opt-out of the program entirely.

Long Description:

Creates a grant program in the Department of Education to distribute funds to schools that automatically enroll qualified high school students into advanced courses. Also encourages schools to automatically enroll qualified 4th-8th grade students in advanced courses. Schools are required to permit parents to both remove their children from a particular class and opt-out of the program entirely. Students qualify by achieving an eligible score on the state assessment test. School districts must submit an application to the department with a detailed plan of how it would use any grant money awarded to increase student enrollment in advanced courses, including expanding the number of such courses offered, incentivizing teachers to teach advanced courses, and expanding parent and student engagement in the district relating to advanced courses. Any district that receives a grant must submit an annual report detailing their advanced course activity. The department must include grant information in its annual report to the legislature. The department is tasked with creating the rules of the grant program, including amounts awarded.


Arguments For:

Students perform best when they are challenged. High-achievers need access to advanced courses in order to not only do their best in high school, but also best position themselves for success in college and beyond. Traditionally, disadvantaged minorities and low-income students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds who perform well in high school do not enroll in advanced classes at the same rate as their peers. This bill attacks this problem in two ways. First it incentivizes school districts to automatically enroll high performers in these classes. Second it gives districts access to funds to improve their advanced course offerings. As far as potential funding issues, the bill is sponsored by the chair of the Joint Budget Committee. He knows the state budget as well as anyone.

Arguments Against:

This bill puts the burden in the wrong place, on parents to opt-out if they do not want their children in this program. There may be multiple reasons why a parent would not want their child to take advantage of advanced courses, even if the school thinks the student could handle them. Whatever they are, it is the wishes of the parents that should control here, and the parents should not have to jump through extra hoops to keep their kids out of these courses.

This bill has no funding mechanism. It creates a new program for the department to administer, but gives it no funds. This means it will be subject to the annual appropriation and we are already severely short in school funding. New programs are likely to have a harder time winning out over established ones.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-059

SB19-060 Educator Supplies Tax Credit (Hill)

Short Description:

Eligible educators can already claim up to a $250 federal income tax deduction for the purchase of school supplies and certain professional development courses. This bill creates a state income tax credit for expenses over that $250 federal cap, up to $750. Amount of the credit that exceeds the educator’s income taxes is refunded.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

Educators frequently have to purchase supplies out of their own pockets, and the $250 federal deduction is nice, but not sufficient. A survey in 2018 found that 94% of teachers spent their own money on school supplies without reimbursement from the school, with an average amount spent of $479. This bill should help more teachers fully cover their supply purchases, which deals with the world we live in, not the world we wish we had (where teachers didn’t have to go out-of-pocket at all).

Arguments Against:

It’s nice to do more to recognize teachers’ out-of-pocket spending but what we really need to be doing is putting more money into our schools so that teachers do not have to do this at all. It is unfair to them and unfair to students, whose supply levels may depend on how generous their teacher is.

This is part of the profession. The 94% number says it all, this is an expectation for teachers. That expectation is already baked into the job and the salary. We should not be further supplementing teacher incomes by giving them further tax credits. If a teacher does not like these minor out-of-pocket expenses then they can switch professions.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-060

SB19-063 Infant and Family Child Care Action Plan (Priola, Story) [Buentello, A. Valdez]

Short Description:

Requires the department of human services in consultation with the early childhood development leadership commission and various stakeholders to develop a strategic action plan addressing the decline of availability of family care child homes and infant child care.

Long Description:

Requires the department of human services in consultation with the early childhood development leadership commission and various stakeholders to develop a strategic action plan addressing the decline of availability of family care child homes and infant child care. The plan must, at a minimum, address the lack of licensed family child care homes, obstacles to obtaining and retaining a license, research into why providers stop operating, research into why many homes do not provide infant care, research into potential zoning, land use, and property tax laws or policies that hinder facilities, research into how public investments could help, research into available financial resources and gaps in these resources, and anticipated costs.


Arguments For:

Colorado has a shortage of licensed, safe, and affordable child care options, particularly for infants. Since 2010 the state has experienced a decline of 1,582 family child care homes which has resulted in over 7,300 fewer infant slots in the state. All of this with a growing population. In some counties there are no child care centers at all, making family child care homes the only option for working families. And many parents prefer the child care home atmosphere to a child care center anyway. Is it incredibly important for the state to solve this problem, because working families need safe and affordable child care. In order to solve a problem, first you need to fully understand it and that is what this bill does.

Arguments Against:

We know the problem already, overly restrictive licensing requirements from the nanny state that drives these small businesses out of business. Instead of wasting time and money with a study, let’s go back to the licensing strictures that worked in the past.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-063

SB19-066 High-Cost Special Education Trust Fund Grants (Todd) [Buentello]

Short Description:

Creates a high-cost special education fund to be used for public schools that make significant expenditures to provide special education services to a child with a disability.

Long Description:

Creates a high-cost special education fund to be used for public schools that make significant expenditures to provide special education services to a child with a disability. Uses marijuana  tax cash fund money to fund next year ($1 million of general fund money to start), but also permits department of education to use funds granted by state’s special education fiscal advisory committee. The fund is designed to be a reserve, which earns interest to help keep it funded, drawn upon only when needed to help make a school district whole from money it has already spent. To qualify, schools need to show expenditures over three consecutive years to meet a single child’s needs of the lesser of $300,000 or 10% of the school’s general fund budget.


Arguments For:

Every year a small number of cases randomly occur across the state that require extraordinary expenses to meet the needs of educating a child, which is a mandate and a promise we give to all Colorado families. This can threaten the financial stability of a school and its ability to maintain the level of education it offers all of the other students including other students with special needs. This bill creates a reserve these schools can call upon when needed to restore the balance in their books.

Arguments Against:

Perhaps it is time to revisit the notion that every single child, regardless of their needs, can get an education in our public schools. These small number of cases should be shunted off into private programs that are already set-up for these extreme needs.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-066

SB19-069 Nonpublic School Teacher Development Programs (Lundeen) [Wilson]

Short Description:

Currently school districts and charter schools are allowed to operate induction and alternative licensure programs for teachers, principals, and administrators. This bill allows private schools to do so as well.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

These programs are for new teachers, to help them gain licensure and a foothold in the industry. Private schools should be able to take advantage of these programs as much as public schools.

Arguments Against:

These are programs we’ve designed to try to address teacher shortages in our public school system. The last thing we need is private schools competing for these same teachers and taking them away for our needy public schools.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-069

SB19-074 Support for Literacy Enrichment for Young Students (Lundeen)

Short Description:

Creates a literacy enrichment scholarship program for low income parents who have a child in kindergarten-3rd grade with an identified significant reading deficiency. Scholarship is limited to $500 per student per year and must be used to purchase literary enrichment products and/or services for the student.

Long Description:

Creates a literacy enrichment scholarship program for low income parents who have a child in kindergarten-3rd grade with an identified significant reading deficiency. Scholarship is limited to $500 per student per year and must be used to purchase literary enrichment products and/or services for the student. Low income is defined as not exceeding 300% of the federal poverty line. The department of education is to contract with a nonprofit entity to administer the program, which includes establishing a money transfer service which facilitates withdrawal of funds from an eligible student’s account for spending on state-approved products and services. Parents are required to submit receipts in cases where the payment method does not identify what the funds were spent on. First-time violations by a parent require repayment of the money; second or subsequent violations will require repayment and close the account. The department is to report on the success of the program to the legislature by 2023.


Arguments For:

Literacy levels at an early age can depend greatly on the support parents can provide outside of the classroom, which frequently is directly related to the parents’ income. When we find a child from a low income family with a reading gap, then it becomes critical to provide outside support to help close that gap. An unclosed gap means a child that is likely to always be behind and when you combine that with lower family economic resources, you get a child who is being set up to fail.

Arguments Against:

Children with an identified reading gap already get extra attention in school and if we need to do more to bolster these efforts then we can discuss that. What we should not be doing is handing money to parents to spend on activities outside of school, even if they are monitored and well-intentioned. All of that monitoring is going to cost the state money and time and some parents may find ways to slip through the cracks.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-074