Who Is In Charge

Higher ed strategic plan has a name

A day after a prominent legislator questioned the need for a new higher education strategic plan, members of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education got a look at what that process might look like.

Rico Munn, new director of the Department of Higher Education, gave commissioners a three-page “concept paper” for what he’s calling the Colorado P.E.A.K Plan. The document was to be circulated to college presidents around the state later in the day.

The newest entry in the thick lexicon of education acronyms stands for:

  • P – Purpose
  • E – Excellence
  • A – Access
  • K – K-12 transition

According to Munn’s brief memo, the strategic plan is designed to address what the state needs from its higher ed system, the current funding crisis, other challenges and its relationship to the K-12 system.

And, the memo says, the plan “must provide for clear accountability measures.” (Accountability, including such ideas as tying funding to students graduated, not just students enrolled, is a hot topic in higher ed nationally.)

Munn plans to meet with college presidents about the plan next week, “with an eye toward doing some sort of launch event on Dec. 15.” According to the document, “the strategic planning process should be launched by a clear articulation of goals by the governor.”

The memo said the goals “could include some mix of” doubling the number of postsecondary degrees and certificates awarded (Gov. Bill Ritter’s Colorado Promise), increase in overall postsecondary participation, a larger role for community colleges, “targeted” improvements in remediation and retention, developing “some measure” for affordability and accessibility and “a standard for efficiency and sustainability” of the state system.

What’s envisioned is a steering committee, with two co-chairs, that would supervise the work of subcommittees. The memo says the steering committee would focus on developing accountability measures while the subcommittees would be organized by the P.E.A.K. acronym, to wit:

  • Purpose – Would examine changing demographics and projected needs for higher ed, institutional roles and relationships with business.
  • Excellence – In charge of examining governance and regulation, construction and data gathering.
  • Accessibility – Responsible for working on budget issues, financial aid and system efficiencies.
  • K-12 Transition – Assigned to work on admissions, remediation and retention.

The memo ends with this cryptic sentence; “Adequate project funding has been identified in the budgets of the governor’s office and the Department of Higher Education.”

Munn told the commissioners, meeting at Community College of Aurora, that the steering committee would periodically report back to them, and the final report would be done by the fall of 2010.

Commissioner Greg Stevinson, noting the group had received the memo only three hours before the meeting, said, “We need time as a group to sit down and look at this.”

Commissioner Happy Haynes, noting the governor’s role in the plan, said she “would hope we can have a dialogue with him.”

But, the commission had no further discussion of the matter Thursday.

On Wednesday, Munn and CCHE Chair Jim Polsfut met with the Joint Budget Committee for the panel’s annual higher ed briefing.

JBC Chair Rep. Jack Pommer, D-Boulder, questioned the need for a strategic plan, noting that Ritter’s first term will be ending and that many are calling for action now to deal with higher ed’s financial crisis (see story about that meeting).

Munn gave the commission a cursory rundown on that JBC meeting, noting facetiously “that was as pleasant as root canals can be.”

Tennessee Votes 2018

Early voting begins Friday in Tennessee. Here’s where your candidates stand on education.

PHOTO: Creative Commons

Tennesseans begin voting on Friday in dozens of crucial elections that will culminate on Aug. 2.

Democrats and Republicans will decide who will be their party’s gubernatorial nominee. Those two individuals will face off in November to replace outgoing Republican Gov. Bill Haslam. Tennessee’s next governor will significantly shape public education, and voters have told pollsters that they are looking for an education-minded leader to follow Haslam.

In Memphis, voters will have a chance to influence schools in two elections, one for school board and the other for county commission, the top local funder for schools, which holds the purse strings for schools.

To help you make more informed decisions, Chalkbeat asked candidates in these four races critical questions about public education.

Here’s where Tennessee’s Democratic candidates for governor stand on education

Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and state Rep. Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley hope to become the state’s first Democratic governor in eight years.

Tennessee’s Republican candidates for governor answer the big questions on education

U.S. Rep. Diane Black, businessman Randy Boyd, Speaker of the House Beth Harwell, and businessman Bill Lee are campaigning to succeed fellow Republican Haslam as governor, but first they must defeat each other in the 2018 primary election.

Memphis school board candidates speak out on what they want to change

Fifteen people are vying for four seats on the Shelby County Schools board this year. That’s much higher stakes compared to two years ago when five seats were up for election with only one contested race.

Aspiring county leaders in charge of money for Memphis schools share their views

The Shelby County Board of Commissioners and county mayor are responsible for most school funding in Memphis. Chalkbeat sent a survey to candidates asking their thoughts on what that should look like.

Early voting runs Mondays through Saturdays until Saturday, July 28. Election Day is Thursday, Aug. 2.

full board

Adams 14 votes to appoint Sen. Dominick Moreno to fill board vacancy

State Sen. Dominick Moreno being sworn in Monday evening. (Photo by Yesenia Robles, Chalkbeat)

A state senator will be the newest member of the Adams 14 school board.

Sen. Dominick Moreno, a graduate of the district, was appointed Monday night on a 3-to-1 vote to fill a vacancy on the district’s school board.

“He has always, since I have known him, cared about this community,” said board member David Rolla, who recalled knowing Moreno since grade school.

Moreno will continue to serve in his position in the state legislature.

The vacancy on the five-member board was created last month, when the then-president, Timio Archuleta, resigned with more than a year left on his term.

Colorado law says when a vacancy is created, school board must appoint a new board member to serve out the remainder of the term.

In this case, Moreno will serve until the next election for that seat in November 2019.

The five member board will see the continued rollout of the district’s improvement efforts as it tries to avoid further state intervention.

Prior to Monday’s vote, the board interviewed four candidates including Joseph Dreiling, a former board member; Angela Vizzi; Andrew LaCrue; and Moreno. One woman, Cynthia Meyers, withdrew her application just as her interview was to begin. Candidate, Vizzi, a district parent and member of the district’s accountability committee, told the board she didn’t think she had been a registered voter for the last 12 months, which would make her ineligible for the position.

The board provided each candidate with eight general questions — each board member picked two from a predetermined list — about the reason the candidates wanted to serve on the board and what they saw as their role with relation to the superintendent. Board members and the public were barred from asking other questions during the interviews.

Moreno said during his interview that he was not coming to the board to spy for the state Department of Education, which is evaluating whether or not the district is improving. Nor, he added, was he applying for the seat because the district needs rescuing.

“I’m here because I think I have something to contribute,” Moreno said. “I got a good education in college and I came home. Education is the single most important issue in my life.”

The 7,500-student district has struggled in the past year. The state required the district to make significant improvement in 2017-18, but Adams 14 appears to be falling short of expectations..

Many community members and parents have protested district initiatives this year, including cancelling parent-teacher conferences, (which will be restored by fall), and postponing the roll out of a biliteracy program for elementary school students.

Rolla, in nominating Moreno, said the board has been accused of not communicating well, and said he thought Moreno would help improve those relationships with the community.

Board member Harvest Thomas was the one vote against Moreno’s appointment. He did not discuss his reason for his vote.

If the state’s new ratings this fall fail to show sufficient academic progress, the State Board of Education may direct additional or different actions to turn the district around.