From the Statehouse

College safety bill watered down

Rep. Steve King got House Education Committee approval of his college and university safety bill Monday, but in a much diminished form.

The Grand Junction Republican’s original House Bill 10-1054 originally would have required state colleges and universities to give 45-minute orientations to new students about how to respond in critical incidents. A much more expansive school and college safety bill by King went nowhere last year, defeated in large part by opponent concerns about cost.

King’s more modest 2010 bill looked to be in big trouble when House Ed first considered it Jan. 28, but committee chair Rep. Mike Merrifield, D-Colorado Springs, mercifully laid it over.

The version approved by the committee Monday merely requires that colleges “shall disseminate school safety information to students, faculty and staff.”

The committee devoted two hours to House Bill 10-1131, the Colorado Kids Outdoors program, which would set up grants to fund outdoors programs for school children. The trouble is, this is one of those gifts-grants-and-donations programs, except for an unused $27,000 fund in the Department of Natural Resources.

It also wasn’t that the bill was controversial (except to some committee Republicans, who were worried about environmentalist indoctrination). But, sponsor Rep. Christine Scanlan, D-Dillon, had lined up 18 witnesses to support the idea (many of them from her central mountains district), and all that testimony took time. A leadoff witness was Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien, who’s made the proposal one of here 2010 priorities.

The bill passed easily, with three Republicans voting no.

The committee also approved House Bill 10-1171, which would repeal various school data reporting requirements, and House Bill 10-1183, which would set up a study of alternative school finance methods.

Quite frankly, it was just a for-the-record kind of day, with no major debates or decisive votes.

Here’s the rest of the rundown:

• House Bill 10-1193 – Sales tax on out-of-state retailers (part of budget-balancing package), passed Senate Appropriations Committee

• House Bill 10-1064 – Mandatory appeals process for prep athlete eligibility disputes, final House approval

• Gov. Bill Ritter Monday nominated Ruth Ann Woods of South Fork of Richard E. Martinez Jr. of Centennial to the State Board of Community Colleges and Occupation Education and five people to the Charter School Institute board – Patricia Hayes of Aurora, Amy Anderson of Denver, John Schlickting of Greenwood Village, Cecilia Sanchez de Ortiz or Denver and Celeste Di Ioria of Fort Collins.

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.