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.

Some bills will have text highlighted in pink or highlighted in orange. Pink highlights mean House amendments to the original bill; orange mean Senate amendments. The bill will say under the header if it has been amended.

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.

House

Click on the House bill title to jump to its section:

MAJOR

HB19-1017: Kindergarten Through Fifth Grade Social and Emotional Health Act PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED
HB19-1032: Comprehensive Human Sexuality Education PASSED HOUSE AND SENATE COMMITTEE AMENDED
HB19-1112: Child Safety Accounts KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB19-1171: Expand Child Nutrition School Lunch Protection Act PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB19-1194: School Discipline for Preschool Through Second Grade PASSED HOUSE AMENDED

MEDIUM

HB19-1055: Public School Cap Construction Financial Assistance PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB19-1110: Media Literacy PASSED HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED
HB19-1151: Special Education Opportunity Scholarships KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB19-1190: Repeal of Mill Levy Equalization Fund KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB19-1192: Inclusion of American Minorities in Teaching Civil Government PASSED HOUSE AMENDED
HB19-1203: School Nurse Grant Program PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED
HB19-1236: Workforce Diploma Pilot Program

MINOR

HB19-1002: Leadership Professional Development for School Principals PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB19-1005: Income Tax Credit for Early Childhood Educators PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB19-1008: Include Career and Technical Education in Building Excellent Schools Today Program PASSED
HB19-1036: Annual Stipends for Certified School Professionals SIGNED INTO LAW
HB19-1052: Early Childhood Development Special District PASSED
HB19-1053: Computer Science Courses Offered in Schools KILLED BY SPONSORS
HB19-1066: Counting Special Education in Graduation Rates SIGNED
HB19-1094: Internet Link to Basic Life Skills Education Courses KILLED ON HOUSE FLOOR
HB19-1100: Prohibit Use Restriction on School District Property SIGNED INTO LAW AMENDED
HB19-1116: Hunter Education Courses in Public Schools KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB19-1121: Fifth-Year High School & ASCENT Program Students PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB19-1123: Income Tax Deduction for 529 Account K-12 Expenses KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB19-1134: Identification and Interventions for Students with Dyslexia PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED
HB19-1137: Teacher Cadet Program Include Early Childhood Education PASSED
HB19-1139: American Civics Education KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB19-1161: Comprehensive Physical Education Instruction Pilot PASSED HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED
HB19-1186: School Employment Background Check Clarification PASSED HOUSE
HB19-1201: Board of Education Executive Session Negotiations Strategy PASSED

TECHNICAL

HB19-1059: Remove Redundant Language in Educator Licensing SIGNED INTO LAW

Senate

Click on the Senate bill title to jump to its section:

MAJOR

SB19-104: Elimination of Duplicate Regulation of School Building
SCR19-001: Transfer of GOCO Great Outdoors Colorado Money to State Education Fund KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

MEDIUM

SB19-003: Educator Loan Forgiveness Program PASSED SENATE COMMITTEE AMENDED
SB19-022: Bonuses for Highly Effective Teachers KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE
SB19-033: Automatic Law Waivers for School Districts KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE
SB19-048: Protect Students from Harmful Material KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE
SB19-059: Automatic Enrollment in Advanced Course Grant Program PASSED A SENATE COMMITTEE
SB19-087: Students Subjected to a School Safety Incident KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE
SB19-176: Expanding Concurrent Enrollment Opportunities
SB19-183: Alternate Procedure to Reorganize School Districts PASSED SENATE COMMITTEE
SB19-190: Teacher Preparation Program Support

MINOR

SB19-009: Financial Incentives for Rural Educators PASSED SENATE AND HOUSE COMMITTEE
SB19-025: Information to Students Regarding Safe Haven Laws PASSED SENATE AND HOUSE COMMITTEE
SB19-060: Educator Supplies Tax Credit
SB19-063: Infant and Family Child Care Action Plan PASSED SENATE
SB19-066: High-Cost Special Education Trust Fund Grants
SB19-069: Nonpublic School Teacher Development Programs SIGNED INTO LAW
SB19-074: Support for Literacy Enrichment for Young Students KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE
SB19-094: Extend School Finance Interim Committee PASSED SENATE COMMITTEE
SB19-102: Innovation School Operating as a Community School PASSED
SB19-129: Regulation of Online Schools PASSED SENATE COMMITTEE
SB19-137: Extend the Colorado Student Leaders Institute PASSED A SENATE COMMITTEE
SB19-161: Sunset Council for Parent Involvement in Education PASSED SENATE COMMITTEE
SB19-189: Sunset Concurrent Enrollment Advisory Board

TECHNICAL

SB19-039: Interdistrict Transportation of Students SIGNED

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

*This bill has amendments Engage considers technical in nature*

PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE

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]

PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE

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]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

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]

PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE AMENDED

Short Description:

Creates a pilot program in a 10 Colorado schools district to ensure that a school social worker is dedicated to each of the grades kindergarten through fifth grade. Ratio of social worker to student population is to be 1 to 100, if a school has fewer than 600 students then there will not be a worker dedicated to each grade, but enough social workers to maintain the 1 to 100 ratio. Paid for by marijuana tax fund and private funding.

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. Ratio of social worker to student population is to be 1 to 100, if a school has fewer than 600 students then there will not be a worker dedicated to each grade, but enough social workers to maintain the 1 to 100 ratio. Paid for by marijuana tax fund and  private funding. 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. Control schools are to be selected with as close as possible circumstances as the test schools. 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. What we are doing now does not work, we need a new model to address the crisis of youth suicide. The point of the pilot is to prove that this heavy usage of social workers can help, and not only with student health and lives, but also lower the costs in our corrections system.

Arguments Against:

A massive state intrusion into families’ lives is not an appropriate use of our resources (the fiscal note for this bill estimates a cost of over $13 million just for the one school district$5 million for the ten schools in the pilot program). 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.

This bill is well-meaning, but sets an impossible standard. Statewide implementation could cost up to $1 billion and it could prove to be nearly impossible to staff rural locations, where we already have trouble hiring teachers. It would require enormous amounts of private funding to work and that funding could be more tenuous than state funding. So we could very well have a successful pilot that doesn't tell us about statewide solutions because it would be impossible to implement. We need a realistic pilot that has a chance of being a statewide solution.

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

AMENDED: Minor (requires repassage in House)

PASSED HOUSE AND SENATE COMMITTEE

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. Includes opt-out option for any parent.

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:

This bill closes a bit of a loophole that some state districts and charter schools had found to still teach abstinence-only sexual education, despite the legislature's attempt in 2013 to end the practice. 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 may 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, exposing our youth to 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]

AMENDED: Technical

SIGNED INTO LAW

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]

AMENDED: Technical

PASSED

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]

KILLED BY SPONSORS

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. As is stands, this bill is an unfunded mandate to schools.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1053
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HB19-1055 Public School Cap Construction Financial Assistance [Bird]

AMENDED: Technical

PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE

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

SIGNED INTO LAW

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 (Foote) [Buentello, Kipp]

AMENDED: Technical

SIGNED INTO LAW

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

HB19-1094: Internet Link to Basic Life Skills Education Courses (Woodward) [Soper]

AMENDED: Minor

KILLED ON HOUSE FLOOR

Short Description:

Currently, as part of the public school performance report, each school provides the department of education with links to descriptions of some courses and programs the school offers that are not included in statewide assessments. This bill adds basic life skills courses to the list, including financial literacy, home economics and nutrition, student wellness education, automotive education, shop class, and basic health interventions such as the Heimlich.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

We’ve come to understand that we aren’t teaching enough basic life skills in our schools and this bill will allow us to better track if our public schools are succeeding or failing here.

Arguments Against:

Basic life skills aren’t something public schools should concern themselves with, we have enough on our plate with the basics and getting students prepared for college. This also turns this area into an unfunded mandate, schools are going to be judged for areas they aren't given funding for.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1094

HB19-1100 Prohibit Use Restriction on School District Property (Bridges, Lundeen) [Geitner]

AMENDED: Medium

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Prevents any school district from restricting property being sold, leased, rented, or conveyed from being used as a public or nonpublic school for any grade from preschool to 12th grade if the board gives public notice and has a public hearing about the matter.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

School districts in the state have inserted deed restrictions when selling school property and buildings that prevent these properties from being used as a school which not only lowers property value, it prevents the property from being used for what it was built for.

Arguments Against:

School districts are constantly strapped for funds. They of course are not going to sell property and/or buildings for less than full value on a whim. Furthermore, school districts already have to have open meetings, so decision cannot be made in secret right now. Schools are also required to publicly submit any property or buildings for sale to charters, so the fear of decisions made in the dark is unfounded.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1100

HB19-1110 Media Literacy [Cutter]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED HOUSE COMMITTEE

Short Description:

Requires the department of education to implement media literacy education in elementary and secondary schools based on the recommendations of an advisory committee this bill creates.

Long Description:

Requires the department of education to implement media literacy education in elementary and secondary schools based on the recommendations of an advisory committee this bill creates. The committee is to consist of: an academic expert, a representative of a nonprofit specializing in media literacy, a representative of a nonprofit specializing in journalism, a professional print journalist and a professional broadcast journalist, a teacher from a rural area, a teacher from an urban area, a librarian, a representative of a parent organization, a two school administrators, one from a rural area and one that is not, and a two students, one from a rural area and one that is not. Media literacy is defined in the bill as the ability to access, analyze, and create through various forms of media; to analyze the reliability of information, claims, and sources presented in various forms of media; best practices of digital citizenship including appropriate behavior online and preventing cyberbullying.


Arguments For:

Our fake information problem is only going to get worse. And it is not always malicious, sometimes people just don’t understand why a particular story is likely to be false (or that it has already been debunked) and share and spread it anyway. For our civic health we desperately need to be creating citizens who understand how to interact with information in today’s era and how to sift through the noise to find the truth.

Arguments Against:

Our government should not be in the business of teaching our kids how to consume information online and how to tell if a story is “true” or “false”. This could be indoctrination, whereby the non-conservative forces in the media and our liberal government push their agenda onto our kids. They may be told to ignore conservative media, they may be told it is untrustworthy, and they may be told to credit more “mainstream” media outlets that many conservatives believe to be biased.

This is a worthy concept but an impossible one. When a large chunk of the country believes that the only valid sources of information are conservative media and the rest of the media is hopeless biased while another larger chunk believes most conservative media are propaganda, there is no way we are going to be able to teach the children of these two chunks media literacy in a neutral environment. One or both of these chunks are going to end up furious.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1110

HB19-1112 Child Safety Accounts [Neville]

*Sent to the House State Affairs Kill Committee*

KILLED BY HOUSE COMMITTEE

Short Description:

Requires the department of education to create child safety accounts if a child in a public school or charter school is directly affected by a safety incident (but not a perpetrator) and the child’s parents could not reach a satisfactory resolution with the school district. This account is funded by the money that was supposed to go to the school district for the student. It instead can be used by the parents for eligible expenses in educating their child at either a participating private school or home-school. Any leftover money in the account can be used if the child attends an institution of higher education. The account can be closed for improper usage. Also creates a scholarship structure for the program. Any scholarships are 100% income tax deductible up to $100 million in aggregate. Parents in this program are eligible for tax credits for any payments relating to education that this program does not cover, at a 100% level. Any credits that exceed the taxes the parents owes are refunded to the parent.

Long Description:

Requires the department of education to create child safety accounts if a child in a public school or charter school is directly affected by a safety incident (but not a perpetrator) and the child’s parents could not reach a satisfactory resolution with the school district. Eligible safety incidents include bullying, sexual harassment, sexual abuse, sexual misconduct, gang activity, fighting, suicide attempt or threat, shooting, drug use, other act of violence, or other incident that a licensed physician finds has an effect on the safety of the student.

This account is funded by the money that was supposed to go to the school district for the student. It instead can be used by the parents for eligible expenses in educating their child at either a participating private school or home-school. Eligible expenses include: tuition, instructional materials, tutoring, transportation to and from school, and therapy for trauma from the event. Any leftover money in the account can be used if the child attends an institution of higher education and can be used for tuition at an institution of higher education.

Also creates a scholarship structure for the program. Any scholarships are 100% income tax deductible up to $100 million in aggregate. The cap can increase if the donor reaches 90% of it (so $90 million to start), if this happens it will go up by 25%. Scholarships can be given by individuals or corporations. Scholarships cannot be for specific students but can be for specific types of schools or specific types of safety incidents. Parents in this program are eligible for tax credits for any payments relating to education that this program does not cover, at a 100% level. Any credits that exceed the taxes the parents owes are refunded to the parent.


Arguments For:

One of the greatest societal failings we can have is the failure to protect a child. Our schools take on that responsibility but when they fail, parents sometimes don’t have a recourse. What is a parent supposed to do if their child is involved in an incident at school and no longer feels safe? An education costs large amounts of money, money that the state provides to the school but that the parents cannot access if they do not feel comfortable sending their child to public school. This bill fixes all of this, by giving these parents the ability to access the funds designated for their child to continue their education in another setting. And as recognition of the damage inflicted by the state through the public school, a way to continue education through a college degree. The tax credits bolster this by making sure that the parents will not have to pay any money, just as it is for public education. The scholarship program is a way to lift some of the burden of these costs off of the state. Ultimately, this bill is an attempt to rectify the tragedy of a child not feeling safe at school.

Arguments Against:

This bill has the potential to be a gigantic favor to wealthy individuals, private schools and parents who chose to opt-out of public education. It sounds reasonable on the surface, a child who is attacked at school should not have to go back there. But nowhere in this bill is school choice mentioned, which the ability for parents to send their child to a public school their child is not assigned to. Perhaps the way to solve this problem, and there is no argument that it is a problem if a child does not feel safe at school, is to guarantee a school choice option for the parents to send their child to a different public school. And even this omission only scratches the surface. The bill’s designation of safety incidents include a few that are fairly broad, such as bullying, and offer an “out” for a parent who like to send their child to private school but would not like to pay for it. And indeed, any parent would be a fool to not try to get into this system. Free private school (because if the safety account doesn’t cover the costs, the state will reimburse the rest through an unlimited tax refund) AND the potential for some free college education if the account is managed carefully. Not to mention a gigantic tax shelter the Cayman Islands would be proud of, in the form of a $100 million tax aggregate deduction. Anyone with any money whatsoever would be lining up to take advantage of this tax break to drastically lower their tax bill, with no real ceiling at all ($100 million a year is quite the goal). On the plus side that does mean that the state would probably not be on the hook for any additional tax refunds or the cost of college tuition, because all of the private money would be there. But of course that’s tax money the state won’t have to spend on anything other than the kids in this program. The non-partisan legislative staff council estimated that this bill would cost the state over $212 million dollars in revenue when fully implemented.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1112

HB19-1116 Hunter Education Courses in Public Schools [McKean]

AMENDED: Significant

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Short Description:

Requires any school district or charter school which offers a hunter education course to have the course be taught by a division of parks and wildlife certified instructor, to require all 7th graders to complete the course enters into an agreement with a local entity to teach the course at no cost and covers any other costs through gifts, grants, or donations, and to require parental permission for any hands-on activities in the course. The division of parks and wildlife can accept the course toward meeting the requirements of a hunter education certificate (required for a hunting license).

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

Our state has a problem with declining hunters, whose permitting and licensing fees the state leans on for funding our parks and wildlife programs. One of the issues is that it is time-consuming to get a hunter education certificate, particularly for kids. The state actually also recommends that anyone planning to spend time out in our beautiful back country take hunter safety courses, basic outdoor skills acquired in a hunter education course can be invaluable during any outdoor activities. And if we are going to teach this in a school, we must of course make sure it is being taught by a qualified instructor and allow parents to opt-out of activities they don’t want their children participating in. The bill also ensures that no educational funds will be used by the course.

Arguments Against:

This bill may be counter-productive to its goal. By forcing a district to instruct all 7th graders, it may actually incentivize schools to offer no instruction at all. Because a lot of parents are not going to want their child taking a hunting safety course, no matter if the kids don’t actually do any hands-on activity (like shooting a weapon). And so schools aren’t going to want to take on the hassle of district-wide trouble.

It is not the place of our public schools to be teaching hunting safety or promoting hunting in any way. Stick to the basics and the education our children need to succeed in our society. If a parent wants their child to take a hunting safety course, there are plenty of other alternative sources.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1116

HB19-1121 Fifth-Year High School & ASCENT Program Students [McCluskie, Roberts]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE

Short Description:

Extends authority of school districts to include in its pupil count students who were enrolled at an early college before June 6, 2018, and who after completing four years of high school, enroll in a post-secondary courses to the 2020-21 budget year. Adds new prioritization to the ASCENT program (students remain pupils in their high school for an extra year while attending an institute of higher education), which if there are not enough slots currently prioritizes by free lunch rate, then by school district size. Under the bill, this would change to first prioritizing based on qualifying student credits earned, post-secondary certification earned in ASCENT year, and enrollment in high demand programs.

Long Description:

Extends authority of school districts to include in its pupil count students who were enrolled at an early college before June 6, 2018, and who after completing four years of high school, enroll in a post-secondary courses to the 2020-21 budget year. Adds new prioritization to the ASCENT program, which students are eligible for if they have completed at least 12 credit hours of post-secondary courses prior to the end of 12 grade, needs no remedial work to get into post-secondary education, has been accepted at a post-secondary degree program at a qualified institution in the state, and has been selected by their high school principal. Currently if there are not enough slots the program prioritizes by free lunch rate, then by school district size. Under the bill, this would change to first prioritizing based on earning 24 or more post-secondary credits, post-secondary certification earned in ASCENT year, and enrollment in high demand programs.


Arguments For:

ASCENT is designed to help low-income and traditionally underserved populations achieve a post-secondary credential. But current prioritization makes no distinction on the achievement of the student being nominated for the program. Higher achievers who are more likely to succeed and are looking at high demand fields should come first and students should not be penalized if their school district doesn’t have as many free or reduced lunch students. Having fewer is not the same as having none.

Arguments Against:

The goal of the program is to serve low-income and traditionally underserved populations, not to pick out the highest achievers. Looking at free and reduced lunch rates in school districts as a first cut makes more sense to fit this goal. 44% of the ASCENT students in 2016-17 (most recent data) were Hispanic, a traditionally underserved population in the state. The status quo is working.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1121

HB19-1123 Income Tax Deduction for 529 Account K-12 Expenses (Smallwood) [Larson]

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Short Description:

The federal tax bill last year allowed distributions from 529 accounts (setup to save money for college tuition tax-free) for elementary or secondary school expenses tax free. This bill extends these to the state level in Colorado.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

Quality education is important through a child’s life and expanding 529s to lower levels of education makes sense. This isn’t free money and it can’t be spent on anything but education. All it does is give parents who want to spend money on their children’s education a tax-free way to save for it.

Arguments Against:

529s are for a very specific purpose: saving money to send kids to college. They are not for sheltering money to send kids to private schools when free public ones are an option.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1123

HB19-1134 Identification and Interventions for Students with Dyslexia (Todd) [Buckner, Wilson]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE

Short Description:

Creates a working group under the state commissioner of education to study state and national data and practices concerning the early identification and support of students with dyslexia. Establishes a pilot program based on the working group’s findings with five local school districts.

Long Description:

Creates a working group under the state commissioner of education to study state and national data and practices concerning the early identification and support of students with dyslexia. This includes recommendations for screening tools, comprehensive assessments, and educator training programs. This group is to consist of parents of children with dyslexia, literacy experts, elementary school teachers, including some from rural areas, a school principal, and a higher education teacher who teaches elementary school education. Establishes a pilot program based on the working group’s findings with five local school districts, which must be a representative sample of the state and geographically diverse.


Arguments For:

Various educational advocacy groups, including parents with children who have dyslexia, have voiced concerns related to the adequacy and effectiveness of the methods and tools we are currently using in our schools to identify dyslexia and the adequacy of the educational supports available. It is not new to recognize that we have a problem here, but what we are doing is not working. This situation calls for leveraging learned expertise rather than reinventing the wheel, and that requires a dedicated group to study the problem and recommend solutions, which we can then test in a pilot program.

Arguments Against:

The working group created in this bill has no funding, so it will be an all-volunteer effort. That may not be a problem, but it might end up being an issue for getting the nationwide expertise we need.

HB19-1137 Teacher Cadet Program Include Early Childhood Education (Priola) [Wilson]

From Early Childhood and School Readiness Legislative Commission

PASSED

Short Description:

Adds interest in early childhood education as an option to the already established teacher cadet program (support high school students who show interest in pursuing teaching careers in rural Colorado).

Longer Description: N/A

Arguments For:

Teachers shortages in rural areas are a well-known problem but of course if rural areas have trouble getting qualified teachers they also have trouble getting pre-K educators as well. This provides a burden to working families searching for childcare options. All the bill does is take an already existing program and broaden its scope to address all of the teacher shortage problems, not just the ones that crop up once a child is in the state’s education system.

Arguments Against:

Shortages means we simply don’t have enough and when we don’t have enough we have to make tough choices. Encouraging any high school student who might want to teach in rural Colorado to not enter our desperately hungry K-12 programs and instead focus on early childhood education could leave a spot open in K-12.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1137

HB19-1139 American Civics Education [Carver]

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Short Description:

Gives public schools the option, in kindergarten through 8th grade, to choose an American civics course of study option to meet the state’s academic standards for civics education.

Long Description:

Gives public schools the option, in kindergarten through 8th grade, to choose an American civics course of study option to meet the state’s academic standards for civics education. The course would focus on the history and origin of the US and Colorado Constitutions and the Bill of Rights, the structure and responsibilities of the three branches of government in the US and Colorado, individual rights and responsibilities in our system, and federalism. If the standards require study of governments in other countries, the course should compare our system to other countries, in particular the role of an independent judiciary, individual rights, and limits on governmental power.


Arguments For:

A foundational understanding of how our government works and the responsibilities of a citizen is a critical piece of any child’s education in the United States. This bill would allow schools to both meet that need as well as fulfill their requirements to the state education board for civics education.

Arguments Against:

This sounds fine on the surface, but the content that the course is required to adhere to, at a minimum at least, swings heavily in the favor of a states-rights, limited government reading of our government. Not only are those items explicitly mentioned, but the comparison to foreign governments leaves out many of the obvious ones (different divisions of power, methods of election, and history of formation) in favor of a limited government one.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1139

HB19-1151 Special Education Opportunity Scholarships [Geitner]

*Assigned to House State Affairs kill committee*

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Short Description:

Creates a special education scholarship fund, which takes money the department of education would have spent on the child in public school (the child cannot be attending public school) and puts it into an account the child’s parents can use for educational services or materials.

Long Description:

Creates a special education scholarship fund, which takes money the department of education would have spent on the child in public school (the child cannot be attending public school) and puts it into an account the child’s parents can use for educational services or materials, including approved private school tuition, approved online educational services, contracted services provided by a public school, instructional materials, and specialized instructional services. Parents must keep a log of at least the past two years of expenses. A non-profit will administer the program and can take up to 10% of the amount it receives from the department of education as its administrative fee. This entity is responsible for publicizing the program, reviewing applications, reviewing providers, and distributing and monitoring the money in the accounts. A parent caught spending the money in an unauthorized manner for the first time can remain in the program if they refund the fraudulently used amount. If they refuse, or if it is the second time they have been caught, they are removed from the program and any remaining money in their account is returned to the general fund. If a parent exits the program any remaining money in their account is also returned to the general fund.


Arguments For:

Parents with children with special needs can sometimes have overwhelming educational needs that they may feel like their local public school is simply not up to meeting. This program allows them to get the support they need for their child by simply using the funds that would have gone to the public school and allowing the parents to use them to the greatest benefit for their child, whether that is private education, a combination of educational services, or home-schooling with specialized supports. The program has checks and balances to prevent fraud and to ensure that approved providers are up to the challenge. We promise every child in this state a quality education, this extends that promise to parents with children who need a bit more than what their public school can provide.

Arguments Against:

The financial sleight of hand doesn’t quite work here. Public schools get money based on the number of pupils they have, so not having this pupil means they don’t get the money for that pupil. That is fine, but the state actually loses the money by having to pay it out anyway, in the form of this scholarship fund. The sum of this is a drain on our public school system in order to pay for private education. And while of course special needs children require greater support, our public school system is far better equipped to handle it because they have to, by law, as opposed to private institutions that frequently prefer to steer clear. The bill defines special needs as pretty much any special need, from autism spectrum to traumatic brain injury, so we aren’t trying to cull out those few cases that need extraordinary special needs. Finally the potential for fraud is high, as the monitoring system is loosely defined and will require extreme diligence from the non-profit charged with running the program (which is also picking up a tidy 10% of the total funds involved).

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1151

HB19-1161 Comprehensive Physical Education Instruction Pilot (Todd, Priola) [Buckner, Wilson]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED HOUSE COMMITTEE

Short Description:

Creates a physical education pilot program based on standards created by a coalition of Colorado-based health and wellness organizations and educators. Pilot is for 3 academic years in K-8 grades and to be awarded to at least 15 but not more than 30 schools with a total amount spent of no more than $3 million annually.

Long Description:

Creates a physical education pilot program based on standards created by a coalition of Colorado-based health and wellness organizations and educators. Pilot is for 3 academic years in K-8 grades and to be awarded to at least 15 but not more than 30 schools with a total amount spent of no more than $3 million annually. These grants are to be used to supplement, not replace, existing physical education programs. In awarding grants the state will look at barriers in the applying schools to providing comprehensive quality physical education and try to balance out them out geographically. The program consists of 30 minutes daily or 150 minutes per week for K-5 grades, not including recess time or breaks, and 45 minutes daily or 225 minutes per week for 6-8 grades. Class size equivalent to academic subject classes and moderate to vigorous activity for at least ½ of the class time. Clean and safe equipment, student progress monitoring, teacher surveys to look for student behavior changes, and a prohibition from exempting or removing students from the program unless there is a religious prohibition or a physical or emotional injury. The program is to be evaluated by a institute of higher education that has a physical education program, with priority given to a Colorado-based school.


Arguments For:

Our schools are not only responsible for student’s academic development but also their physical health and development. Research has shown that there is a positive relationship between frequency of physical education and academic achievement and it has been demonstrated to lead to positive development of social skills, social behaviors, self-esteem, pro-school attitudes, and improved mental health. This bill takes the logical next step in improving our physical education offering by taking the recommendations of the group of experts convened in 2016 and trying them out.

Arguments Against:

While it is only a pilot, the time requirements go way too far. We already have so much to teach our kids in a limited amount of time, and forcing physical education into a daily activity that consumes 30 minutes of an elementary school kid and 45 minutes of a middle school kid’s day is too much. We have art, music, foreign languages, and of course the basics of reading, writing, math, history, science, and so much more to cram into a limited period of time. The balance here is too far off to even try in a pilot program.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1161

HB19-1171 Expand Child Nutrition School Lunch Protection Act [Michaelson Jenet]

PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE

Short Description:

Removes specific funding amounts for state-subsidized school lunches for early childhood education programs in state public schools through 5th grade (this applies to students who get a federally reduced school lunch but still have to pay something for the meal), clarifies that 6-8th grades are eligible (were made so last year but the funding specified 5th grade as the cap), and expands the program through 12th grade so that the entire state public education system is included, K-12 plus state early childhood education programs.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

This bill simply takes what the state is already doing to ensure those that cannot afford school lunch still get a healthy meal and extends it through high school. Growing kids need to eat, cannot be expected to work themselves, and should not be punished for their income status (which they have nothing to do with). The fact that the current program ends after middle school is a capricious line that does not reflect reality. What is the difference between an 8th grader that cannot afford a full lunch every day and 9th grader who cannot afford a full lunch every day? We also should not have specific monetary amounts in statute that is what the annual budget process is for. We budget the amount we need each year to make the program work.

Arguments Against:

While we feel compassion for those less fortunate, the government should not be feeding kids. There are many low-price options for lunches and parents need to provide for their children. This bill extends this wrong notion further, and at further cost. As was warned last year, when this program was extended to middle school, “While it is true that the increases are capped, we all know that if the needs exceed the cap, the cap will quickly be dispensed with. Surely high school students will be next.” And here we are: high school students in the program and no cap. The next step may be to expand the program in terms of income, moving beyond those eligible for federally-reduced lunches. Because it is always easy to find the next group and turn this well-intentioned plan into a revenue eating monster that inhibits the ability of our schools to do what they are supposed to do: teach our kids.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1171

HB19-1186 School Employment Background Check Clarification (Bridges, Cooke) [McLachlan]

AMENDED: Technical

PASSED HOUSE

Goal: To make it easier for school employees to get their required fingerprint-based background check.

Short Description:

  • Requires a law enforcement agency to take the fingerprints of an applicant for a school position if an approved 3rd party vendor is not within 20 miles of a school district.
  • Fixes a technical error in a few laws that did not allow authorized schools or school district employees to take fingerprints.
  • States that schools or school district employees can use any fingerprinting equipment that meets FBI standards.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

In 2018 the state bureau of investigation selected two 3rd party vendors to take fingerprints for those individuals required to do so by law but at the same time erroneously told local law enforcement to stop taking fingerprints for this purpose. That directive was reversed but many local law enforcement agencies still do not take fingerprints for background checks. The two vendors are not up to the task, so we need to get more avenues open for those looking to teach in a school, both through local law enforcement and the ability for the school to do it itself.

Arguments Against:

Great for schools, but what about other jobs that require this service? If these vendors are cutting it, perhaps we need a broader solution that encompasses more than just helping teachers and school staff.

We never should have moved away from law enforcement doing this in 2017, this is an opportunity to go back and remove these 3rd party vendors and hodge podge of school districts doing the service best left to the experts.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1186

HB19-1190 Repeal of Mill Levy Equalization Fund [Kipp]

KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE

Goal: To stop providing extra money to state-authorized charter schools that makes up for extra local property tax revenue the schools do not get.

Short Description:

Repeals the fund that sends state-authorized charter schools (schools that are not part of any school district) money to make up for the local property tax “overrides” (extra property taxes voters have approved for specific school needs) that these state-authorized schools do not get.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

This fund is taxation without representation. Voters in the state of Colorado did not approve any statewide taxes to go to charter schools and in fact this diverts money that could be going to schools that desperately need it. Districts that have no approved any property tax increases for schools see nothing extra, while these charters get extra money without any voter approval at all. We owe our public schools hundreds of millions of dollars. This fund is a luxury that we cannot afford right now. This does not affect charter schools that are contained within school districts. Charter schools have long said that they could do better than our public school system for less money. So they should go do that instead of asking for equalized funding.

Arguments Against:

This will do next to nothing to help our public schools while striking a severe blow against these charter schools. Last year’s budget had $5.5 million for this fund and next year’s proposed budget has $10.5 million. We spend more than $7 billion on education in Colorado. On the other hand there are 39 schools serving more than 18,000 students who will be harmed by this bill. Charters already are not equally funded, fully funding these charters on an equivalent level to public schools would cost almost $30 million. These schools provide much needed diversity of school types within our K-12 system and increased options for parents and students.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1190

HB19-1192 Inclusion of American Minorities in Teaching Civil Government (Gonzales) [Gonzales-Gutierrez, Buentello]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED HOUSE

Goal: To increase the amount of the history and contributions of minorities to the US and Colorado that is taught in our schools.

Description:

Adds Asian-Americans to the list of minority cultures whose contributions to American (and the bill adds, state) history be taught in all public schools. The bill also adds the word “must” in front of “be taught.” It reduces the gap between community forums to address these standards from 10 years to 6 years. It also creates a history, culture, and civil government in education commission, which will make recommendations to the state board of education and department of education to be used at the state’s mandated six year curriculum review.

Additional Information:

Commission consists of 15 16 members, with a requirement for the majority to have classroom experience, and representation from minority communities, educators, and school boards/superintendents. The governor appoints all of the voting members: two each from the American Indian, Latino, African American, and Asian American communities; one with a LGBTQ background; one from an educator’s union; one from a school superintendent or local school board organization; and two representing higher education. Commissioner of education gets to appoint two non-voting members, and the president of the state historical society gets one non-voting slot.


Arguments For:

Current law curiously puts Colorado state history outside of the requirement to teach about the contributions of minority cultures to our history. This bill fixes that (along with fixing the omission of Asian-Americans) as well as puts stronger structures in place to make sure that all Colorado students are getting a well-rounded (and un-whitewashed) education in the state and country’s history.

Arguments Against:

This is injecting too much PCism into our education system. We of course should teach history as it happened, but we should not be bending over backwards to make sure that minority groups are highlighted. The most important stuff, regardless of who it involved, must come first.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1192

HB19-1194 School Discipline for Preschool Through Second Grade (Priola, Fields) [Lontine, Larson]

AMENDED: Moderate

PASSED HOUSE

Goal: To drastically reduce the usage of suspension and expulsion for children in second grade or younger.

Description:

Bans all Colorado schools that get state funding (including community-based preschools) from suspending or expelling a student in second grade or younger unless the student has a dangerous weapon, is involved in drug use or sales, endangers the health or safety of other, AND failure to remove the student would create a safety threat that cannot be otherwise addressed. Any suspensions are limited to 3 days or when the safety threat is resolved, whichever comes sooner, unless the executive officer or chief administrator of the school determines a longer suspension is necessary to resolve the safety situation.

Additional Information:

The school must also determine, on a case-by-case basis, that alternative behavioral and disciplinary interventions have been employed and were not effective. This must be documented. Removing a child from the school grounds at any point during the day for disciplinary reasons counts as a suspension.


Arguments For:

Out-of-school suspension at this age has profound effects. Young children who are suspended or expelled from school are several times more likely to experience disciplinary action later in their academic careers, drop out or disengage from high school, and be incarcerated later in life. This is part of the school to prison pipeline in action. Punitive discipline at this age on this scale does more harm than good. And yes, there is a racial element at play here. The US Department of Education has found that black kids are disproportionately suspended from class as early as preschool at a whopping 3.6 times more likely rate than white kids. Students with disabilities are also ripe targets, as parents can sometimes still be working out that their child has a disability at all, much less how to handle it in an academic environment. Of course is safety is an issue then the kid needs to be removed from the environment, which this bill allows. Kids belong in class, and very young kids are still very much moldable.

Arguments Against:

This is about all of the other kids who are in the school who are having their learning disrupted. It is a delicate balance for schools to walk, at any age, to both try to save students who are struggling and to serve students who are not. This bill takes a tool completely out of the arsenal of schools to attempt to walk this tightrope. We should trust our local educators to know how to use suspensions and expulsions rather than dictating from the state legislature that they cannot be used except in very narrow circumstances. How is it fair to the kids who are behaving that they must have their classes disrupted by the kids who are not?

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1194

HB19-1201 Board of Education Executive Session Negotiations Strategy [Kipp, Wilson]

PASSED

Goal: To clarify that a board of education can meet in executive session to determine collective bargaining strategy.

Description:

Clarifies that a board of education can meet in executive session (not in public) to develop a strategy for negotiations relating to a collective bargaining agreement.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

This fixes an unintended consequence of proposition 104 in 2014. This required school district employee negotiations to be held in public. But there is confusion about whether school boards can meet privately to establish their own negotiating positions. There is an obvious need for the districts to be able to do this, as you cannot have a good-faith negotiation if one side is not allowed to have difficult private conversations amongst themselves in a negotiation.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1201

HB19-1203 School Nurse Grant Program (Todd) [Mullica]

AMENDED: Moderate

PASSED A HOUSE COMMITTEE

Goal: To increase the number of school nurses in the state.

Description:

Creates a grant program to award grants on five-year cycles. Schools must use the grant to hire a school nurse or nurses. Preference for grants is to be given to rural areas and schools eligible to receive federal funds for having high percentage of low-income families. Rural schools can use the grant money to contract with a local public health agency if they cannot find a nurse to work at the school. Schools must also provide their current nurse-to-student ratio, the amount of money required to hire a nurse and whether the school has considered its ability to sustain funding for the position after the five-year cycle ends. The program will award up to $3 million in annual grants. Grants must be renewed each year by keeping the nurse(s) it is supposed to fund in place.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

When a school has a nurse, fewer children are sent home sick or miss school, fewer are sent to emergency rooms for asthma, fewer 911 calls are made, and teachers and school staff are freed up to do their jobs. Nurses are also critical to mental health and spend nearly 1/3 of their time in this area. The state of school nurses in Colorado is abysmal. There are approximately 630 school nurses in the state for over 900,000 school-aged children, which works out to one nurse per 1,500 students. In practice, some nurses serve over 3,000 students. This grant program will help those schools that need nurses the most to hire and retain a nurse over a five-year time frame, which gives them time and space to come up with a plan to keep the nurse after the grant cycle has ended.

Arguments Against:

This sets up a potentially untenable situation where a nurse may exist in a school only so long as the school can stay in this grant program. Once the grant has ended, the school will not magically have more resources to keep the nurse, it will have to come up with the additional resources itself or it will have to get back into the grant program. A permanent funding stream for nurses would provide more stability and perhaps, if done in partnership with school districts, more bang for our buck.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1203

HB19-1236 Workforce Diploma Pilot Program (Todd) [Gray, Sullivan]

Goal: To test a pilot program to encourage more qualified entities to successfully graduate adults with high school diplomas.

Description:

Creates a pilot program in the department of education to award credit completion (and graduation) payments to qualified providers for high school diplomas and other industry-recognized training certificates. Public, non-profit, or private accredited, diploma granting institutions with at least two years of experience providing adult dropout recovery services, along with some other criteria, are eligible. Maximum of $7,000 provided per student and providers cannot receive tuition or other payments from students and money from this program. Repeals in 2022.

Additional Information:

  • Additional criteria include ability to provide academic skill intake assessment and transcript evaluations, ability to develop learning plans, ability to provide remedial coursework in literacy and numeracy, ability to provide research-validated resiliency assessments and intervention, ability to provide employability skills development, and ability to provide career pathways course work.
  • Awards are as follows: $250 for ½ credit, $1,000 for high school diploma, $250 for employability skills certification program equal to at least one Carnegie unit, $250 for industry-recognized credential requiring up to 50 hours of training, $500 for industry-recognized credential requiring up between 51 and 100 hours of training, and $750 for industry-recognized credential requiring more than 100 hours of training.
  • Qualified providers must maintain a minimum 50% high school graduation rate to stay in program. Miss for one year and go on probation, miss for two and they are out.


Arguments For:

If it is becoming more and more true that you need a college degree for many jobs, just think about what opportunities exist for those without a high school diploma. About 400,000 adults in the state do not have a high school diploma. When you combine cost to the state from social services, incarceration, and lost income from taxes, $258,240, and lost wages to the individual, you get $755,900 of lost opportunity cost for each high school dropout. These individuals are frequently not in the position to spend the money required to get their diploma, so a state program that fills in the funding may be a great way to up the economic opportunity for more Coloradans as well as lower the state’s financial exposure to social services and incarceration. A win-win opportunity.

Arguments Against:

This is designated as a pilot program but is uncapped. Each student can only get $7,000 per provider but there is no overall cap per provider or for the program. There is also no funding stream provided for the bill, so this is going to take an uncertain amount of money away from other parts of the department of education, which of course is where we already owe hundreds of millions of dollars to our schools as part of the so-called negative factor. A true pilot would start small to see what sort of effect the program was having.

We shouldn’t be subsidizing people’s mistakes. High school dropouts may sometimes have had tough choices to make in regards to family or other issues, but it isn’t the job of the state to hold the hands of adults so they can get the bare minimum we expect of people in our society: to earn a high school degree.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1236

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

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED SENATE COMMITTEE

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
vote

SB19-009 Financial Incentives for Rural Educators (Todd) [McLachlan, Wilson]

PASSED SENATE AND HOUSE COMMITTEE

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
vote

SB19-022 Bonuses for Highly Effective Teachers (Lundeen)

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

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)

AMENDED: Significant then back to not

PASSED SENATE AND HOUSE 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. Bill will only take effect if HB1032, comprehensive human sexuality education, is passed into law.

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)

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

*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

SIGNED

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]

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

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 and school districts are already required to adopt and enforce reasonable policies of Internet safety.

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)

AMENDED: Technical

PASSED A SENATE COMMITTEE

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]

AMENDED: Technical

PASSED SENATE

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, Buentello]

SIGNED INTO LAW

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)

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

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

SB19-087 Students Subjected to a School Safety Incident (Woodward)

*Assigned to State Affairs kill committee*

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Short Description:

Allows any student subjected to a safety incident in any school the ability to choice into a public school that they are not assigned to by location. The school must allow the transfer after pupil enrollment day if applicable. Parent or legal guardian must submit a written statement of the safety incident. Also allows for parents or legal guardians to use 529 accounts (setup to save money for college tuition tax-free) for elementary or secondary school expenses tax free (at the state level) if there is a safety incident.

Long Description:

Allows any student subjected to a safety incident in any school the ability to choice into a public school that they are not assigned to by location. The school must allow the transfer after pupil enrollment day if applicable. Parent or legal guardian must submit a written statement of the safety incident. Also allows for parents or legal guardians to use 529 accounts (setup to save money for college tuition tax-free) for elementary or secondary school expenses tax free (at the state level) if there is a safety incident. A safety incident is defined as any incident of battery, harassment, hazing, bullying, kidnapping, physical attack, robbery, sexual offense, threat or intimidation, or fighting.


Arguments For:

Any student who is subjected to a safety incident and might be afraid to go back to school deserves the ability to transfer, no questions asked, to another school. The 529 law has already been amended at the federal level to allow these uses, this bill extends this in a limited way just to those students who we have failed.

Arguments Against:

This bill’s definition of safety incident and the proof required are extremely loose. In particular threat or intimidation and bullying can be construed to happen to just about every student who ever attends school, and the bill does not require anything other than the parent’s word about the incident, no investigation or anything else. A good way to force school choice if you were not going to get it through normal channels. On the 529 change, 529s are for a very specific purpose: saving money to send kids to college. They are not for sheltering money to send kids to private schools when free public ones are an option.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-087

SB19-094 Extend School Finance Interim Committee (Lundeen, Todd) [Garnett]

PASSED SENATE COMMITTEE

Short Description:

Extends the school finance interim committee for one more year.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

This committee exists because we have a state-wide school finance problem we need to solve, as greater and greater chunks of the general fund budget go to K-12 education and yet we still owe our schools hundreds of billions of dollars. Clearly its work is not done.

Arguments Against:

This committee has failed so far to fix our problem. Perhaps we should try something different.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-094

SB19-102 Innovation School Operating as a Community School (Zenzinger) [Titone]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Short Description:

Currently public schools can become an innovation school by having an innovation plan approved by its local school board. This is generally done when schools are facing state intervention due to poor performance. This bill allows the school to also designate itself as a community school, which means in the main that it will do an annual asset and needs assessment of and by the community that engages at least 75% of the families, students, and educators in the community. Community schools also typically operate a little more like charter schools, with extended hours and emphasis on after-school enrichment.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

Community schools are an old idea enjoying a resurgence in education circles with the support of teachers unions and other advocates. These schools often include an extended school day with after-school enrichment, culturally relevant curriculum, significant outreach to parents, and an emphasis on community partnerships. This bill would define these types of schools for the first time in Colorado and make it explicit that an innovation school can be a community school.

Arguments Against:

Community schools are trying to improve the things beyond their control, things that are outside of the school, rather than focusing on improving the school itself. Schools are also already free to choose this path if they wish, this law may lead to the state directing more schools to choose this path.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-102

SB19-104 Elimination of Duplicate Regulation of School Building (Holbert) [Baisley]

*Sent to the State Affairs kill committee*

Short Description:

In the case of a conflict between a law, rule, code, standard, or ordinance of a state agency and the department of education or applicable local government, the department of education or applicable local government will prevail with matters regarding a building or structure or the public health, safety, and welfare on the property of a school district or charter school.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

High quality before-and after-school programs are essential to many Colorado working families. Many of them are operated on public school facilities and thus are subject to regulation from the department of education, department of public health and environment, and the department of human services. This can create confusion when the rules conflict, so this bill sets out the department of education (or controlling local government) as the standard to hold to. This will not affect any programs that are not on school property.

Arguments Against:

The location here is a red herring. A before- or after-school program is the same thing no matter where it is located: a bunch of kids together in one place looked after by a few adults. This is not a school or a classroom, which is what the department of education is designed to regulate. The schools themselves are frequently not running these programs, they are outsourced. The reason that the department of public health and environment has regulatory control here to ensure that food and drink is served and maintained in the proper manner, which is by the way different from how the school serves lunch. The reason the department of human services has regulatory control is because they are tasked with regulatory child care programs to make sure the children are safe. Again, this is not a classroom and different rules need to apply.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-104

SB19-129 Regulation of Online Schools (Story) [Froelich]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED SENATE COMMITTEE

Short Description:

Requires online K-12 schools to collect information twice a year annually on students who withdrew after the annual count date (and submit to department of education). Requires existing multi-district online schools that change authorizers to obtain a new certification from the department. If an online school on performance watch changes authorizers or becomes a different online school with the same authorizer the performance watch stays.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

This fixes a hole in our current school reporting scheme and levels the playing field between traditional schools (both regular public and charter) and online schools. As more and more students move into some form on online education, we need to be able to track how they are doing and how the schools are doing.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-129

SB19-137 Extend the Colorado Student Leaders Institute (Todd, Crowder) [Hansen]

PASSED A SENATE COMMITTEE

Goal: To make the Student Leaders Institute into a permanent program extended through 2024.

Short Description:

Turns the Student Leaders Institute, a competitive summer academic program for 10th and 11th graders to-be to experience a more college-like atmosphere and classes, from a pilot set to expire this year into a program extended through 2024.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

So far 80% of students participating in a governor’s school program elect to remain in-state for college and their career. This is a win-win program, giving these kids a taste of higher education and 3 college credits, and giving the state a chance to keep these talented kids in-state.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-137

SB19-161 Sunset Council for Parent Involvement in Education (Bridges, Story) [Kipp]

PASSED SENATE COMMITTEE

Goal: To continue the council for parent involvement in education and tweak the board membership.

Description:

Continues the council for parent involvement indefinitely. Changes the membership requirements to require a member from each Congressional district.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

From the state department of regulatory agencies’ sunset review report: “The Advisory Council works to emphasize the importance of partnerships between schools, communities, and families, and has held feedback discussions at each of its meetings. The Advisory Council has also participated in the development of training content and statewide outreach in order to foster partnerships and promote the Advisory Council’s stated objectives regarding parental participation in the educational process. In addition, the Advisory Council has been considered a model example by other states in the development of similar advisory councils. Therefore, the General Assembly should continue the Advisory Council.”

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-161

SB19-176 Expanding Concurrent Enrollment Opportunities (Lundeen, Bridges) [McCluskie, Geitner]

Goal: To clarify the various options for taking college classes while in high school and to get more Colorado high school students in concurrent high school/college classes.

Description:

Clarifies the differences between concurrent, dual enrollment, and AP courses (and requires schools to properly identify programs to students). Requires schools to offer concurrent enrollment courses in academic and career and technical areas, unless they cannot provide access to the postsecondary courses due to technological capacity. Schools must provide notice of all secondary enrollment courses available. Higher education institutions participating must provide schools with all relevant information on the course. The state must create a publicly accessible website providing information on secondary enrollment courses. Finally, bill creates a grant program to fund schools that need help providing concurrent enrollment courses.

Additional Information:

Concurrent classes are classes that give both high school and post-secondary school credit and do not cost any tuition to the student. Dual enrollment is an off-campus class that may or may not give high school credit and may or may not give post-secondary credit. Students may also be required to pay extra fees. AP classes are not concurrent.

For the notice schools must provide to their high school students. These must be at least six weeks prior to the beginning of enrollment. They must identify all courses correctly, any costs to the student/student’s family, and number of credits and how they will apply. Institutions of higher education must provide schools with any anticipated costs to students and number of potential credits.

The website must explain, compare, and contrast all available post-secondary options to high school students. Provide information on eligibility and procedures to participate in concurrent courses and where possible link to local schools. Explain all potential costs and potential credits.

The grant program is tasked with prioritizing schools that have the most demonstrated need for money to expand their ability to offer concurrent classes with the greatest potential effective use of the money. It is not given any money in the bill.


Arguments For:

There is a lot of confusion out there, and it’s understandable. We cannot have schools giving students wrong information about what these classes can and cannot do in terms of credit (and cost!) and the bill addresses this area. But more importantly, the bill requires all state high schools to offer concurrent enrollment, which is a great tool for talented high school students to get a foot in the door in post-secondary education. Earning a few credits before high school graduation makes the student more attractive to post-secondary schools and makes it more likely the student will follow through. Because we do not want to give our schools unfunded mandates, the bill also creates a grant program to bring resources to the schools that need it to comply with the requirement.

Arguments Against:

Since the bill contains no money, this is quite literally an unfunded mandate. Our education budgets, as we all know, are not limitless and money for this has to come from somewhere else (if at all). There is no sense from the bill as to how great the need will be in Colorado schools for additional funds to meet the mandate of the bill, and no sense as to the real applicability to tiny rural schools in the state.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-176

SB19-183 Alternate Procedure to Reorganize School Districts (Priola, Todd) [Michaelson Jenet, Wilson]

PASSED SENATE COMMITTEE

Goal: To create a process whereby a school district can be closed and be absorbed by surrounding districts.

Description:

Creates an alternative process for closing a school district. Starts with planning committee consisting of school boards of districts to be closed and surrounding districts. Committee to create plan to move closing school district into one or more of the other districts. After public hearings, each affected school board gets to vote on plan. If plan is not approved by at least 2 affected districts committee is dissolved. If one or more affected districts do not approve, committee creates a new plan that does not include them. Any bonded debt stays with the taxpayers of the closing school district.

Additional Information:

State has defined criteria in bill to close a school district. One of the following conditions must exist: district no longer accredited, district doesn’t provide full 1-12 education program, or district has fewer than 50 students. Committee plan must consider: convenience and welfare of affected students, facility use, exact legal boundaries of new districts, and equitable distribution of closing district’s assets.


Arguments For:

This is narrowly defined to only affect certain districts and it is set up to be a “may” not “shall”, so it is up to the individual districts to decide to get into this process. We have some tough situations in our more rural areas of the state where districts really can’t operate effectively anymore and we need to move to reorganize in order to get a better situation for our kids.

Arguments Against:

This is too lenient to the districts. There are times where we do need to step in and make changes, not leave it up to the districts and furthermore leave it up to everyone agreeing on the solution.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-183

SB19-189 Sunset Concurrent Enrollment Advisory Board (Todd, Lundeen) [Cutter]

Goal: To continue the concurrent enrollment advisory board as recommended by the state department of regulatory agencies sunset review.

Description: Continues the concurrent enrollment advisory board indefinitely.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

From the state department of regulatory agencies’ sunset review report: “The collaborative work facilitated by the Advisory Board will continue to be a valuable resource for higher education institutions and LEPs in their efforts to strengthen concurrent enrollment programs. For this reason, the General Assembly should continue the Advisory Board.”

Arguments Against:

Continuing the advisory committee indefinitely is a stretch too far. Keep it within the sunset review process.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-189

SB19-190 Teacher Preparation Program Support (Todd, Rankin) [McLachlan, Wilson]

Goal: To increase classroom experience of teacher preparation programs and provide additional teachers for schools in the state.

Description:

Allows institutes of higher education in the state that offer teacher preparation programs to enter fee-for-service contracts with the state that includes a full year of residency for its students in K-12 classrooms co-teaching alongside a mentor. Mentor teachers is a licensed position that required a master’s certificate from department of education. Mentors must receive a stipend of at least $2,000 from local school and institute of higher education when they have a resident. Residents must receive a stipend of at least $15,000 from the institute of higher education. Also creates a grant program to help both institutes of higher education and local providers design residency programs.

Additional Information:

Partnerships can include multiple institutes of higher education and multiple local education providers. They can also create induction programs for support for teachers who are new graduates, professional development for veteran teachers, and work exchange opportunities. Individual grant maximum is $65,000. Fee-for-service contract can go up or down based on change in appropriations.


Arguments For:

New teachers who are not well-trained, particularly in practical experience, are twice as likely to the profession in their first two years. This is a particular problem when you have teacher shortages like Colorado does, particularly in rural areas. But of course to be effective practical experience must be monitored by an experienced and high-quality teacher. We therefore are going to come out ahead of the game by providing these stipends to make this program work because more teachers who graduate from in-state programs and decide to teach in Colorado are going to stay in the profession.

Arguments Against:

Nothing in the bill prevents a teacher from using this program while a student and then moving out-of-state to teach upon graduation. We frequently require some sort of service teaching in the state in recompense for state support while earning a degree, this bill does not. We also just passed a pilot program last year to create a teacher residency model. The point of a pilot is to wait and see how it works, so we should wait and see before jumping all the way in.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-190

SCR19-001 Transfer of GOCO Great Outdoors Colorado Money to State Education Fund (Sonnenberg) [Pelton]

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM: Requires 2/3 of each chamber to pass.

Goal: To shift lottery proceeds from the Great Outdoors Colorado fund to the state education fund.

Short Description:

Allows state lawmakers to take any money from the lottery proceeds to the Great Outdoors Colorado fund that are not being used to pay off bonds. This money can be spent in the state education budget.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

We owe our schools hundreds of millions of dollars and continue to struggle to fund them and our teachers appropriately. Great Outdoors Colorado is a luxury item in these times. We’ve spent billions since the fund was created on parks and recreation around the state. Now it is time to spend more in our schools.

Arguments Against:

About $66 million is the amount that this fund used last year. To put that into perspective, the state’s education budget was $7 billion. This won’t do anything to solve our education funding issues and it will destroy the Great Outdoors Colorado fund, which is no luxury. Our state relies on the outdoors to fuel tourism and our economy. This fund does more than just spruce up parks, it restores and creates trails, open spaces and protects wildlife. This notion that in order to fund our schools we have to sacrifice the outdoors is dangerous. What else in our state should we completely abandon? We are set to return more than double the $66 million this tax year in the form of TABOR refunds. If we want to amend the constitution to pour over $100 million into our schools, why not start with just keeping all of the tax money the state collects?

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SCR19-001