New face on SBE

Former legislator named to fill State Board vacancy

Lobbyist and former Republican legislator Steve Durham has been named to fill a vacancy on the State Board of Education.

Durham will replace chair Paul Lundeen on the seven-member elected board. Lundeen, a Republican from Monument, recently was elected to a seat in the state House.

First elected to the state House from Colorado Springs in 1974, Durham was elected to the Senate in 1980 but was appointed regional administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1981, a job he held until 1983. He was elected to the Senate for a second time in 1984.

Durham is one of the Capitol’s best-known lobbyists and is CEO of the lobbying firm Colorado Winning Edge. The company’s clients include the Colorado Association of Home Builders and the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.

According to filings with the Department of State, Durham’s clients also include CenturyLink, the city of Glendale, Colorado Association of Career Colleges and Schools, Colorado Gaming Association, Colorado Health Care Association, Colorado High School Activities Association, Colorado Rural Electric Association and the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

Durham will be the second board newcomer in January. Democrat Valentina Flores of the 1st District was elected in November.

During his time in the House, Durham was part of a group of insurgent Republicans known as the “House Crazies.” Also in that group were Tom Tancredo, who later was elected to Congress and ran unsuccessfully for governor, and the late Ann Gorsuch Burford, who later became national administrator of the EPA under President Reagan.

Members of the State Board are elected to six-year terms and represent districts that are identical to the state’s congressional districts. Durham will represent the 5th District, which primarily includes El Paso County.

When an elective office is vacated between elections, a successor is named by a vacancy committee made up of people from the same political party as the person who left the office. Lundeen was elected to the board in 2010.

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.