Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Teacher tenure reform has Colorado ready to race to the top again

The bill passed in Colorado was truly extraordinary – and certainly should result in RTTT Round 2 money, despite more union locals not endorsing it; if not, it will really undercut reformers around the country:


against long odds and a ticking clock, Democratic leadership in the House, having lost the support of the majority of its caucus, succeeded in passing Senate Bill 191, the controversial measure tying teacher tenure and evaluations more tightly to student improvement.

In those tense, emotion-filled moments, and on May 20, when Gov. Bill Ritter signed the bill into law at the Capitol, Colorado had passed the kind of landmark education reform that Washington is looking for -- and with 10 days to spare until Washington's deadline, which falls Tuesday when states will submit their second round proposals to receive competitive "Race to the Top" education grants.

The fight left Democrats bloodied and bruised at session's end. But, come fall, supporters of education reform may be able to say it was worth it if Colorado is awarded the $175 million in federal education funds it's competing for.

And, because of SB 191 alone, many education experts see Colorado as a lock to win funding.

"If we didn't pass that bill, I don't think Colorado would be in the running," said Van Schoales, the head of Education Reform Now. "But, after what the legislature did here, I think it's highly likely."

Gov. Bill Ritter is also optimistic about Colorado's chances of improving upon its 14th place finish in round one. In round two, between eight and 12 states are likely to win funding.

"We just so happen, in [passing SB 191], to have the most significant package of K-12 education reforms of any state in the country," Ritter said. "We're very hopeful in the end that we'll be funded because of that."

Ritter pointed out that Colorado's first-round application lost more points because some school districts didn't sign on than it did for being too lax when it comes to evaluating teachers. And, passing teacher tenure reform cost the state even more districts, as some that had initially been supportive have pulled back.

"Well, we picked up some school districts, and we lost some school districts," Ritter said. "So it's going to net out very close to the same number."

After 44 of 178 school districts refused to sign on during round one, 64 are withholding support for round two.


Teacher tenure reform has Colorado ready to race to the top again

Political Reporter

9:25 PM MDT, May 31, 2010,0,5859469.story

 Subscribe in a reader