Cross Currents Forum about Amendment 66: School Funding Reform

LWV Forum Cross Currents Amendment 66During the Forum a member of the audience pointed out that Colorado has “bought into” the idea that better standards and assessment activity will improve student outcomes and teacher effectiveness.  Colorado is spending millions of dollars on this strategy, but test scores over the last 10 years show no significant improvement in student achievement.  The panelists say that local control is important but Amendment 66 will not correct the current direction to more state and national control of education based on standards and testing and teacher evaluation. There was some discussion on the merits of Common Core State Standards and participation in PARCC (multi-state testing consortium). Senator Rollie Heath commented that No Child Left Behind did not accomplish what it was intended to do. At a recent conference of National Conference of State Legislatures there was a lot of conversation around Common Core. Colorado is currently implementing both Common Core and more testing    Senator Heath said there are concerns regarding Common Core, PARCC and related issues and these items will be a subject for debate during this legislative session.

Also Patrick Albright (one of the panelists), spoke passionately regarding the negative effects of the Effective Teacher evaluation aspects of SB10-191 (Educator Effectiveness Bill). This bill calls for up to 50% of educator effectiveness evaluation based on state level testing (currently TCAP tests and soon to be tests provided by PARCC).

The Forum was held on August 29, 2013 at the Fort Collins City Hall and was Moderated by Barbara Rutstein from the League of Women Voters in Larimer County.

The panelists were:

  • Penn Pfiffner – “Coloradoans against Unions using Kids as Pawns” – Issue committee opposing Initiative 22 (now Amendment 66)
  • Chad McWhinney – Busnessman and “Teach for America” State Chair
  • Patrick Albright – member of Board of Education, Poudre School District
  • Senator Rollie Heath –  Co-sponsor of SB13-213 Future School Finance Act

Amendment 66 asks the voters to approve a proposal to raise Colorado Income Tax rates to generate nearly $1 billion annually to fund a new public education financing model.  The model includes a two-tiered rate hike to help fund full day kindergarten statewide, along with a number of other reforms (See 7NEWS article below)

During the Colorado legislative session this year, SB13-213 was passed.  Funding to implement the changes made by SB13-213 require voter approval.  A group called “Colorado Commits to Kids” has successfully collected the necessary signatures (Initiative22).  On Sept 4, Initiative 22 became Amendment 66. Amendment will be on the ballot on November 5th.

Reference:

PARCC – Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers – currently creating a standard set of K-12 assessements for Math and English Language Arts.

This article at 7News provides a list of the spending in SB13-213, dated August 15, 2013

SB13-213 Future School Finance Act

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