Who Is In Charge

CSU student trustee bill passes House

Tuesday roundup
College degree bills
Outdoors education bill
For the record

Update March 3, 10 a.m. – The House voted 37-28 Wednesday for final approval of House Bill 10-1206, which would give students two voting seats on the Colorado State University Board of Governors.

Text of Tuesday story below

Colorado State University students took a step toward voting seats on the system’s board of governors Tuesday with preliminary House approval of House Bill 10-1206.

That’s one step farther than they went last year, when a similar measure, House Bill 09-1177, was killed in the House Education Committee.

Tuesday’s floor debate found Democrats and Republicans on both sides of the issue, arguing points about student conflict of interest, whether its actually better for students to just be board advisors and whether passing the bill would create pressure for similar changes on other governing boards.

Rep. Carole Murray, R-Castle Rock, led the charge against the bill, arguing that college boards should have disinterested voting members and saying students don’t fit that definition because they pay tuition. (Several bill supporters argued that’s exactly why students should have a vote, because tuition now is the largest part of CSU’s revenue.)

Colorado State University campus
Colorado State University campus in Fort Collins

Prime sponsor Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, defended the bill and told his colleague that the students “will be back again if this bill doesn’t pass.”

The bill passed on a standing vote, and then a procedural move by Murray to defeat the bill failed on a 28-35 vote. The House will have to take a final, roll-call vote on the measure before it can go to the Senate.

The bill would convert the two student representatives on the board into full voting members. The students, one from the Fort Collins campus and one from Pueblo, would have to be juniors, seniors or grad students and would be appointed to terms of one academic year. Student governments and administrations could suggest candidates to the governor for appointment. The board’s two faculty members would remain non-voting.

CSU administrators and the board oppose the bill. Lobbyist Mike Feeley, a Democratic former senator, is representing them. According to disclosure records, he has been paid $6,220 by the university so far this session. Feeley is with the politically influential firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.

Senate advances Mesa, Colorado Mountain degree bills

Mesa State College wants to award graduate degrees, two-year Colorado Mountain College wants to offer bachelor’s degrees, and the Senate thinks both of those initiatives are fine ideas.

Senators voted preliminary approval Tuesday to Senate Bill 10-079, which would allow Mesa to get into the grad school business – but with limitations. The Senate approved a floor amendment that includes the phrase “a limited number of professional and technical degree programs.”

The four-year college is anxious to offer degrees that meet workforce needs on the Western Slope, such as teachers of nursing. “This is fundamentally an access program,” said Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction. “You have tremendous demand for these programs.”

Colorado Mountain College
Colorado Mountain College's facility in Edwards.

On Monday the Senate gave a preliminary OK to Senate Bill 10-101, which now has been amended to allow Colorado Mountain College, a two-year local district college that serves the central mountains, to offer no more than five bachelor’s degrees appropriate to the needs of its service area and approved by the Colorado Commission on higher Education. An amendment also sets out a list of standards CMC must meet for CCHE approval.

Although both bills have long lists of cosponsors, they’ve caused some heartburn about institutional “mission creep” and whether such decisions should be put off until after the current higher education strategic planning process is finished at year’s end.

Department of Higher Education officials had opposed both bills, but lobbyist John Karakoulakis said Tuesday that the amendments fix the department’s concerns.

House tussles a bit over environmental ed bill

Despite Republican suspicions about untapped piggy banks and environmental hidden agendas, the House Tuesday voted preliminary passage of House Bill 10-1131, which would set up a grants fund for schools and programs that involve kids in outdoor environmental education activities.

This is one of several aspirational “gifts, grants and donations” bills floating around the legislature this session, and this one is a favorite of tireless child advocate Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien. It seeks to tap an unused cash fund at the Department of Natural Resources, plus future federal and private money, to pay for a program estimated to need about $100,000 a year.

Rep. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, suggested the DNR money should instead be swept into the general fund to help balance the state’s budget.

Rep, Christine Scanlan
Rep. Christine Scanlan, D-Dillon

Concerned about the possible tone of such programs, Rep. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, proposed an amendment to require they also teach kids about responsible resource extraction. That failed.

Assistant Minority Leader David Balmer, R-Centennial, floated an amendment that would have required kids be taught about the environmental benefits of nuclear power. Noting French reliance on nuclear power, Balmer asked his Democratic colleagues, “If France is for it, it can’t be bad, right?”

An exasperated Rep. Judy Solano, D-Brighton, came to the microphone to say, “We do not need to get specific in this bill about particular curriculum items. This bill is to get kids outdoors.”

Balmer’s amendment also was defeated.

This bill passed on a voice vote. Prime sponsor Rep. Christine Scanlan, D-Dillon, is vice president for education at the Keystone Center, which among other programs operates the Keystone Science School.

For the record

The Senate Tuesday gave preliminary floor approval to Senate Bill 10-026, which would facilitate exchange of student data between the Department of Education and College in Colorado for the program designed to have middle school students develop individual career and academic plans. Also passed was Senate Bill 10-154, which changes the accreditation process for alternative schools serving high numbers of at-risk students.

In addition to passed Senate Bill 10-056, which would require school districts to provide to parents standardized information about both required and recommended immunizations, the House Education Committee Monday passed three other bills. They were:

  • Senate Bill 10-058 – Expanded eligibility for nursing teacher loan forgiveness
  • Senate Bill 10-018 – Creation of a program to provide award-winning schools with trophies and banners, to be funded by gifts
  • Senate Bill 10-088 – Study of the average daily membership student count system, yet another proposal to be paid for by “gifts, grants and donations”

Use the Education Bill Tracker for links to bill texts and status information.

student activism

Five Chicago student activists on why they will be in your face this summer

PHOTO: Courtesy of Diego Garcia
Diego Garcia outside Trump Tower earlier this week

Trevon Bosley’s brother was murdered while attending band rehearsal at church. Shot from the street while helping a friend with drums in 2006, he was just one of the 471 people killed by gun violence that year in Chicago.

Through a peer youth council at St. Sabina Church in Auburn Gresham, Bosley, 20, became an outspoken student activist, and tonight he will join hundreds of students converging for an annual peace march that starts at the church. Chicago’s tradition of youth activism will be on full display, but the local students are getting a high-powered boost. Joining them are Chicago musicians Chance the Rapper and Jennifer Hudson and former Arizona House Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in 2011 at a public meeting with constituents. There will also be another set of special guests: the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fl., where a February shooter killed 17 students and teachers.

All week long, local student activists have been rallying and some Parkland students have lended an assist. Several staged a sit-in in City Hall on Monday to protest the proposed construction of a $95 million police academy on the West side and call for an elected school board. Others staged a die-in on in front of Trump Tower on Tuesday to commemorate the second anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting.

Chalkbeat sat down with five Chicago student activists to hear why they take action and what they hope to achieve.

"Gun violence isn’t mainly just about mass shootings. These kinds of things happen in Chicago, Baltimore 24/7."Alycia Moaton

East Woodlawn resident Alycia Moaton, 17, attends Kenwood Academy. She’s part of Good Kids Mad City, a new advocacy organization formed by Chicago and Baltimore students. This past Monday, Good Kids Mad City members were central figures in the City Hall sit-in this past Monday.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Alycia Moaton
Alycia Moaton outside City Hall earlier this week

On becoming an activist: I grew up in Oak Park for about 10 years of my life. Then I moved into Chicago. Going to public schools on the South Side, it was like a completely different world. A lot of the students—their first thought is whether or not they’ll be able to go to school that day because they’re worrying about getting shot on the way there. When I got to experience both sides, experience what it’s like to not fear going to school, I could see just how messed up it is.

Starting off around three years ago, I went to a lot of protests and youth summits, and that turned me into wanting to be part of an organization. That’s how I got in touch with Good Kids Mad City. Good Kids Mad City came to be after the Parkland shooting, from the idea that gun violence isn’t mainly just about mass shootings. These kinds of things happen in Chicago, Baltimore, 24/7, and it’s as national as a mass shooting.

What she hopes to achieve: One of my main goals is that [the rally tonight] gets a lot of national coverage. The Parkland students are allowing us to make the narrative about Chicago. I hope people leave with the idea of not treating gun violence as just a local issue, with the idea that this isn’t normal. This shouldn’t be viewed as “Oh, this is just how Chicago is, Chicago is just a violent city.”

The big goal is to have people change their narrative about what gun violence in Chicago is, that it has to be taken way more seriously than just a local issue.

"When people think of Chicago, they think of the most violent city. I hope that they think of it as the home of the young leaders."Diego Garcia

Brighton Park resident Diego Garcia, 16, led 15 local teenagers to the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C. in March. Earlier this week, he participated in the die-in outside Trump Tower. He is also a member of Chicago Strong, the citywide youth group organizing tonight’s rally.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Diego Garcia
Diego Garcia outside Trump Tower earlier this week

On becoming an activist: The parents in my community are immigrants, and so are my teachers and my friends. After Trump became president, they felt like, if they speak up for what they believe in, they’re putting themselves in danger of being targeted by the government.

I decided that if I really had nothing to lose, then I would be the voice for them. I’m a citizen of the U.S., and just being a citizen, I have many rights that a lot of other people feel like they don’t have—the right to voice my opinion, to vote about my future.

After the Parkland shooting, my priest said that he would support me in taking 15 teenagers to Washington, D.C., for March for Our Lives. It was one of the best times that I’ve had in my life, because not only were my peers standing up for what they believe in, but also I knew that I wasn’t alone. There was, visually, all around you, people who cared about you.

What he hopes to achieve: I hope that, after the rally, people realize that we young people in Chicago, we want something to change. A lot of the adults like normalizing the violence. The 14-year-old that got shot, or the adult that was going to the store and got shot for no good reason—no one talks about these small things because it happens so often.

I hope that people’s perspective of Chicago changes, because when people think of Chicago, they think of the most violent city. I hope that they think of it as the home of the young leaders.

"It takes everybody. We need people from every region to contribute so we can get total change."Alex King

Austin resident Alex King, 17, just graduated from North Lawndale College Prep. At North Lawndale, he was a Peace Warrior, a youth ambassador for violence prevention. After the Parkland shooting, he traveled to Parkland to visit student survivors. Alex is also part of Chicago Strong.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Alex King
Alex King on a radio interview

On becoming an activist: It started with me wanting a shirt. At North Lawndale College Prep, we have to wear these button-up shirts with collars, and it’s hot. One Thursday, I was seeing these different shirts, regular long-sleeve shirts. It had “Peace Warriors” going down the sleeve, a peace sign on the back, and I was like, “I want one of those.” Then I also heard that Peace Warriors get pulled out of class sometimes, and I’m like “Yeah, if we can get out of class, for sure!”

After joining Peace Warriors, it got to a point where I felt that family connection—these were some of the people I went to when I couldn’t even go to my own family. I’ve been shot at multiple times and I didn’t go to my family, because I didn’t want to put that burden on their shoulders. I went to the Peace Warriors because I knew some of them experienced the same thing, and it’s also easier to connect with people in your age range.

My nephew was shot and killed on May 28, 2017. Shot twice: once in the back of the head and once in the back. I feel like I would have done something that would have put me in a way worse spot than I’m in now if I didn’t have Peace Warriors. They came to me every day, and were like “We are here for you no matter what.” I was known as the one with all the energy. When those people saw me down, they told me,”‘You were always the one to cheer everybody up, so we have to be here for you, to get you back like that.”

What he hopes to achieve: I want people to walk away [tonight] and believe that change can happen. We might be different in a lot of ways, but we are alike in more ways than we are different. I want people to see the fact that we can’t be independent, if we want to make change across the world, we all have to come together to make this work.

We can’t try change the world with only Chicago, we can’t try to change the world with only Florida. It takes everybody. We need people from every region to put their input on so we can get total change.

"Be smart with campaigns. If you’re gonna march, make sure you’re doing it in a community that can really change something."Trevon Bosley

Roseland native Trevon Bosley is a rising junior at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He joined Bold Resistance Against Violence Everywhere, or B.R.A.V.E., a peer youth council run through the St. Sabina youth program, in 2010. He is also a member of Chicago Strong.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Trevon Bosley
Trevon Bosley at March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. earlier this year

On becoming an activist: On April 4, 2006, my brother was murdered while attending band rehearsal at church. He was outside helping a friend with drums. Someone fired shots at them and he was shot in the shoulder. After that, my parents got in contact with (the Rev.) Michael Pfleger at St. Sabina, and he introduced me to B.R.A.V.E.

The main things that the older B.R.A.V.E. members told me was to be smart with campaigns. If you’re gonna march, make sure you’re doing it in a community that can really change something. They told me to just be effective when you’re planning and strategizing your movement.

A while back [around three years ago], we did a voter registration campaign. The strategic thing was how we planned to tackle violence. We know that we have a lot of gun violence in Chicago, but we have to understand why. We noticed that the elected officials at the time weren’t allocating resources to anti-violence initiatives, and the only way you can get politicians to listen to you is to vote. We identified what the problem was and how to go about addressing it.

What he hopes to achieve: We’ve been doing this for a long time and we’ve been fighting for change in the community for a very long time. Tonight’s rally is going to be bigger because of the Parkland influence. We’ve been fighting in Chicago for a very long time for peace, but only recently has the national media really wanted to cover our everyday shootings. The Parkland influence is giving us the platform, it’s led to our voices finally being heard about everyday shootings.

"I want to make sure that we tell our stories ourselves, and not have social media or the news tell our stories because they always twist it around, and then you’re like: That’s not me."RieOnna Holmon

RieOnna Holmon, 15, attends Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep in Rosewood, and she lives in Woodlawn. She joined B.R.A.V.E in 2017, where she received mentorship from older members such as Trevon. Most recently, RieOnna became the president of B.R.A.V.E.

PHOTO: Courtesy of RieOnna Holman
RieOnna Holman speaking at St. Sabina in March

On becoming an activist: I joined B.R.A.V.E. last summer when I did an internship at the ARK of St. Sabina. I just started going to the meetings and taking part in all of the rallies. I see myself in these children [that I mentor], how I was naïve and didn’t really know anything. Being able to teach them about what is really happening out there really shows me that the youth need to be educated about what’s going on.

What she hopes to achieve: [Tonight,] I want to make sure that we tell our stories ourselves, and not have social media or the news tell our stories for them because they always twist it around and you’re always like, “That’s not me.”

It happens a lot. People will talk about someone they lost, and [media outlets] will turn it around being like, this “x” gang member. But we didn’t tell you that. I know now that I have to actually get out there and tell it for myself, because otherwise what’s out there could not be true or another side of the story.

Colorado Votes 2018

Where candidates in the Colorado Democratic primary stand on education issues

The Democratic candidates for governor of Colorado have been sniping at each other over education policy. (Courtesy Colorado Public Television)

Four candidates are vying for the chance to be the Democratic nominee for governor of Colorado. Education has emerged as a key issue on the campaign trail, a point of debate and even a subject of negative campaign ads. Whoever wins the Democratic primary will face the victor of an equally competitive Republican primary.

They’ll be trying to hold on to an office that Democrats have controlled since 2007. Gov. John Hickenlooper cannot run again after serving two terms.

The primary is June 26. Ballots have already been mailed, and they must be received by your local county clerk no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day. For the first time, unaffiliated voters, who make up a third of Colorado’s electorate, can participate in the primary. Unaffiliated voters must pick ONE ballot. If you vote both a Democratic and a Republican ballot, neither will count.

Find voter registration information here.

Colorado’s next governor will have an important role to play in shaping education policy. To better understand their positions, we asked the candidates about their own educational experiences and choices, how they would close the achievement gap, whether Colorado should fund full-day kindergarten, and more.

Find their answers below. You can sort by candidate. They have been lightly edited for grammar, style, and length.

You can read the Republican candidates’ responses here.