Who Is In Charge

Bullying bill packed with mandates

A new anti-bullying bill introduced in the legislature Thursday proposes to do everything from creating a legislative study committee on the issue to requiring schools to conduct annual surveys about student perceptions of the problem.

The measure, House Bill 11-1254, was introduced on a day that saw several education news developments, including committee approval of the concussion bill and defeat of a bill to give Colorado State University students and faculty voting seats on the system’s board. (See bottom of story for details on those.)

Here are some of the key provisions of the bullying bill:

  • A legislative study committee would meet after the session adjourns in 2013 and make a report to the 2014 legislature.
  • A bullying prevention grant program (to be funded by donations, not tax dollars) would be created in the Department of Education to give schools grants for anti-bullying programs.
  • A School Bullying Prevention and Education Board would be created to administer the grant program and produce reports on its effectiveness.
  • School districts would be required to keep records of confirmed bullying incidents and adopt anti-bullying policies.
  • Individual schools would have to provide annual reports on incidents.
  • Teachers would be required to take training on bullying prevention.
  • Schools would have to conduct annual surveys of students on perceptions of bullying.

The bill also would apply to charter schools.

Reps. Kevin Priola, R- Brighton and Sue Schafer, D-Wheat Ridge, are the prime sponsors, along with Sen. Pat Steadman D-Denver.

The bill seems to be considerably more expansive that originally described by sponsors before the session, and it may raise eyebrows from school officials who’ve been hoping the 2011 legislature will reduce or streamline mandates on local schools districts rather than increase them.

Ed McCaffrey, Kelli Jantz, Sen. Nancy Spence
Kellli Jantz (wearing glasses at right) and Sen. Nancy Spence (red jacket) listen to former Bronco Ed McCaffrey urge adoption of the concussion bill.

Concussion bill campaign hits Capitol

The Senate’s largest hearing room was packed Thursday afternoon as the Senate Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony on Senate Bill 11-040, the proposal that would require youth sports coaches to take training in recognizing the symptoms of concussions and also set standards for taking injured youths out of practices and games.

Before the hearing, supporters rallied at a well-attended Capitol news conference to promote the bill. Boosters included Kelli Jantz, the mother of a youth who died from a head injury, and former Denver Broncos Ed McCaffrey and Billy Thompson. The Brain Injury Alliance, The Children’s Hospital and several other medical organizations, plus the National Football League, are backing the bill. The NFL has been pushing similar legislation in states across the country.

The air of enthusiasm cooled a bit once the bill got to the committee. There was debate over whether athletic trainers should be added to the list of medical professionals who could clear an athlete to play after a concussion. (An amendment to do that was defeated.)

Conservative Republican Sens. Kevin Lundberg of Berthoud and Shawn Mitchell of Broomfield, who take a dim view of government mandates of any sort, questioned whether the bill is necessary but were on the losing side of a 7-2 vote to advance the bill.

The bill would require youth sports coaches to take training in recognizing concussion symptoms, require an athlete be removed from practice or a game if a coach suspects a concussion and also require such athletes be medically evaluated and have written clearance before returning to play. It applies only to sports involving middle and high school-age children. The bill proposes neither penalties nor reporting requirements to ensure compliance.

Senate prime sponsors are Nancy Spence, R-Centennial, and Linda Newall, D-Littleton.

Another defeat for student votes on CSU board

The bill to give students and faculty members voting rights on the Colorado State University Board of Governors died Thursday in the Senate Education Committee, with only Sen. Bob Bacon, D-Fort Collins and committee chair, voting yes.

CSU student government leaders have pushed the bill repeatedly and in 2010 saw a similar measure pass the full House by a wide margin before dying in Senate Ed on a 2-6 vote.

This year’s proposal, Senate Bill 11-011, would have added two students and two faculty members as voting members, to be appointed by the governor from the university’s two campuses. Last year’s bill included only student members. Students and faculty currently serve on the board as non-voting advisors.

Defeat of the bill came on the same day that legislators spent consider floor time praising the university while discussing a ceremonial resolution honoring the CSU system.

“Garcia bill” has easy time

House Bill 11-1155, which would clear Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia to also serve as director of the Department of Higher Education, was approved quickly Thursday by the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee. Prime sponsors of the measure are the majority and minority leaders of both houses, so passage is expected.

For the record

The House gave final approval to surprisingly controversial House Bill 11-1007, which would allow Mesa State College employees to vote on whether to remain in the state personnel system or join the college’s own system. The measure may encounter more opposition in the Senate, where Democrats hold the majority.

#GovTest

Where Bruce Rauner and J.B. Pritzker stand on key education issues, from charters to Chicago’s school board

PHOTO: (Rauner) Alex Wong/Staff/Getty Images; (Pritzker) Joshua Lott/Getty Images
Our conversations with Gov. Bruce Rauner (left) and challenger J.B. Pritzker will be aired on Oct. 3 on WBEZ 91.5 FM.

The race for Illinois governor is shaping up to be one of the most expensive in U.S. history, and anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock has probably seen or heard one of the barrage of ads for the candidates. There have been puppies, toilets, and plenty of barbs over wealth and taxes — and the back-and-forth has drowned out the discussion over where the candidates stand on education, arguably one of the most crucial policy areas facing the state.

To dig deeper, Chalkbeat Chicago is teaming up with the education team at WBEZ 91.5 Chicago for a WBEZ/Chalkbeat 2018 Election Special: Testing the Candidates. Republican incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic candidate J.B. Pritzker each have agreed to join us for a conversation about where they stand on everything from boosting the state’s profile in early childhood education to stemming the exodus of undergraduates from Illinois.

The interviews will be separate, but will be broadcast back-to-back on WBEZ 91.5 FM on Oct. 3 starting at 8 a.m.  

In advance of the discussion, Chalkbeat and WBEZ asked each candidate for his position on five questions, and we’ve reprinted their answers in their entirety. We’re also soliciting interview suggestions from our readers and listeners. Use this form to submit a question to us, and follow along with the discussion on Oct. 3 using #GovTest.

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What would you ask Gov. Bruce Rauner and J.B. Pritzker about education?

Chalkbeat Chicago is teaming up with the education team at WBEZ 91.5 Chicago for a WBEZ/Chalkbeat 2018 Election Special: Testing the Candidates. Republican incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic candidate J.B. Pritzker each have agreed to join us for a conversation about where they stand on everything from boosting the state’s profile in early childhood education to stemming the exodus of undergraduates from Illinois.

Use the form below to submit questions for the conversations, which will air back-to-back on Oct. 3 at 8 a.m.