From the Statehouse

“Trigger” would be more of a request

Lawmakers return to the Capitol for their first full week with a lot of new bills on their desks, including 11 of interest to education.

Legislature 2012 logoHouse Bill 12-1149, a revised parent trigger proposal, is the highest profile measure. Sponsored by Rep. Don Beezley, R-Broomfield and vice chair of the House Education Committee, it’s a revised version of an unsuccessful bill he carried last year (see story).

The bill authorizes the parents of students enrolled in a school that has operated under a priority improvement or turnaround plan for two consecutive years to submit a petition to the State Board of Education requesting the board direct the school be reconfigured immediately.

Under the current accountability system, the SBE can take action on such schools after five years on either accreditation status. The parent petition would have to be signed by more than 50 percent of the families of the students at the school. The state board could deny the petition, direct an action to take effect in the next school year or reconsider the petition in the next school year. The bill also sets timelines for the new process.

The measure has seven Republican cosponsors, but no Democrats and no senators are signed up yet.

The parent trigger idea first surfaced a few years ago with a California law that allowed a parent petition for closure or conversion of a failing school.

The other major policy measure among the education bills introduced Friday is House Bill 12-1155, which is intended to help increase college completion rates. The measure would allow the Colorado Commission on Higher Education to change state remedial education policies to allow four-year institutions to offer certain types of remedial work and also to fine-tune student eligibility for College Opportunity Fund stipend and state financial aid in order to incentivize faster student graduation.

It’s sponsored by Rep. Tom Massey, R-Poncha Springs, and Sen. Bob Bacon, D-Fort Collins, chairs of the two education committees.

Massey also introduced House Bill 12-1124, which would direct the Department of Education to commission a study of issues surrounding integration of digital learning into public education. The study is to be funded by gifts, grants and donations and doesn’t have to be done if the money isn’t raised. The report would be due Jan. 31, 2013.

Here’s a quick look at other new bills of interest:

House Bill 12-1109 – This measure would create a formula for cutting all state spending except Medicaid and K-12 education next year, with the savings directed to the State Education Fund. Its sole sponsor is Rep. Wes McKinley, D-Walsh, who’s not considered an expert on either education or the budget.

House Bill 12-1119 – School district collective bargaining sessions would be open to the public under this bill, sponsored by Rep. Kathleen Conti, R-Littleton, and 11 other Republicans. There’s no Senate sponsor.

House Bill 12-1135 – This bill by Rep. Carole Murray, R-Castle Rock, would set quality standards for teachers who supervise student teachers.

House Bill 12-1142 – This bill would open the Public Employees’ Retirement Association defined contribution program to more PERA members.

House Bill 12-1144 – The bill authorizes each university system and each institution to employ an unlimited number of non-tenure-track teachers under renewable five-year employment contracts. Systems or campuses could cancel contracts for financial exigencies or other stated reasons.

House Bill 12-1146 – The measure creates an additional concurrent enrollment program intended to increase dropout recovery and specifies related funding for both school districts and community colleges.

House Bill 12-1150 – Another PERA bill by Republicans, the bill increases the number of highest annual salaries used for calculating retirement benefits from three to seven for members who are first eligible to retire on or after Jan. 1, 2013.

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

awarding leaders

Meet the nine finalists for Tennessee Principal of the Year

PHOTO: Shelby County Schools
From left: Docia Generette-Walker receives Tennessee's 2016 principal of the year honor from Education Commissioner Candice McQueen. Generette-Walker leads Middle College High School in Memphis. This year's winner will be announced in October.

Nine school leaders are up for an annual statewide award, including one principal from Memphis.

Tracie Thomas, a principal at White Station Elementary School, represents schools in Shelby County on the state’s list of finalists. Last year, Principal Docia Generette-Walker of Middle College High School in Memphis received the honor.

Building better principals has been a recent focus for Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen as roles of the school leaders change under school improvement efforts.

“Successful schools begin with great leaders, and these nine finalists represent some of the best in our state,” McQueen said. “The Principal of the Year finalists have each proven what is possible when school leaders hold students and educators to high expectations.”

The winner will be announced at the state department’s annual banquet in October, where the winner of Tennessee’s Teacher of the Year will also be announced.

The finalists are:

West Tennessee

  • Tracie Thomas, White Station Elementary, Shelby County Schools
  • Stephanie Coffman, South Haven Elementary, Henderson County School District
  • Linda DeBerry, Dyersburg City Primary School, Dyersburg City Schools

Middle Tennessee

  • Kenneth “Cam” MacLean, Portland West Middle School, Sumner County Schools
  • John Bush, Marshall County High School, Marshall County Schools
  • Donnie Holman, Rickman Elementary School, Overton County Schools

East Tennessee

  • Robin Copp, Ooltewah High School, Hamilton County Schools
  • Jeff Harshbarger, Norris Middle School, Anderson County Schools
  • Carol McGill, Fairmont Elementary School, Johnson City Schools

you better work

Hickenlooper, on national TV, calls for bipartisanship on job training for high school graduates

PHOTO: Nicholas Garcia
Gov. John Hickenlooper spoke to reporters on the eve of the 2017 General Assembly.

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Sunday said Republicans and Democrats should work together to rethink how states are preparing high school graduates for the 21st century economy.

“It’s not a Republican or Democratic issue to say we want better jobs for our kids, or we want to make sure they’re trained for the new generation of jobs that are coming or beginning to appear,” he said on CBS’s Face the Nation.

Hickenlooper, a Democrat, appeared on the Sunday public affairs program alongside Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, to discuss their work on healthcare.

The Colorado governor brought up workforce training after moderator John Dickerson asked what issues besides healthcare both parties should be addressing.

“Two-thirds of our kids are never going to have a four-year college degree, and we really haven’t been able to prepare them to involve them in the economy where the new generations of jobs require some technical capability,” Hickenlooper said. “We need to look at apprenticeships. We need to look at all kinds of internships.”

Hickenlooper has long supported a variety of education reform policies including charter schools and linking student test scores to teacher evaluations. Last fall he backed a new program that is expected to this year connect 250 Colorado high school students with paid job training.

Watch Hickenlooper and Kasich here. Hickenlooper’s remarks on job training begin right before the 11- minute mark.