Colorado legislature to take up big education issues in 2022

Colorado lawmakers return Wednesday for the start of the 2022 legislative session with hopes to deal with extended-standing education worries as nicely as new issues pushed by the pandemic.

Cash for the two K-12 and larger education will be key topics, as standard, with advocates indicating it’s past time for the point out to make up for a long time of very low funding. There is also the potential for large investments in task coaching and alterations to how the point out shares funds with districts.

The state’s polarizing accountability program and how to transfer forward with faculty scores all through the pandemic will also be up for debate, as will a push to broaden rights for community sector staff.

Overshadowing all of this are the ongoing troubles struggling with colleges: teacher and bus driver shortages, mental health and fitness crises, and long lasting impacts of COVID on pupil studying. Lawmakers think they have strategies to assistance, although schooling advocates are cautious of new programs and unfunded mandates.

Here’s a seem at the best instruction issues lawmakers may well tackle this yr.


Final 12 months, Colorado lawmakers appreciably scaled back again standardized exams and suspended the accountability procedure that costs schools based on exam scores.

This calendar year, Colorado students can assume to acquire the full suite of standardized assessments, but college districts really do not want to see the accountability technique resume promptly. They say that final year’s test information is not a reliable foundation for drawing conclusions.

Faculty districts and academics unions prefer a changeover time period prior to educational facilities get their standard ratings again — however what specifically that would glimpse like is not very clear — and they have help from vital Democratic lawmakers.

Advocates for this “bridge” back again to accountability say they are operating with reform supporters on an suitable compromise, but supporters of the accountability method get worried that variations will make it more challenging to get a comprehensive image of how the pandemic impacted student finding out.


Instruction advocates are typically optimistic about increasing college funding this 12 months. But be expecting debates about how a lot funds the point out must sock absent for foreseeable future decades and how substantially it should shell out now.

Faculties are flush with federal assist money, considerably of it still unspent, but advocates say the condition demands to boost its assistance so that universities don’t drop off a fiscal cliff.

In the meantime, lawmakers are also looking at improvements to how Colorado shares money with school districts. A distinctive committee on college finance could recommend escalating funding for specific education and learning students and modifying how it defines at-threat learners, a designation that brings additional money for school districts. Conservatives will push for funding changes to be tied to better university student results

There’s also a proposal for the point out to offer matching cash for local home tax raises in districts with very low assessed benefit, an effort to minimize some of the disparities among rich and very poor districts, however it is controversial even among the committee customers.

But really do not count on a major rewrite of the funding method. It is proved too politically sensitive in the past, and the unique committee has deferred some of the thornier inquiries right up until soon after the session.

Collective bargaining

A coalition of labor groups are expected to press to expand collective bargaining rights for public staff, together with teachers and bigger instruction personnel unions.

Colorado Training Association President Amie Baca-Oehlert explained shoring up educator rights is a prime precedence, and lecturers have greater salaries and are happier in their jobs in districts with unions.

But the Colorado Affiliation of University Executives, which signifies superintendents, has key problems and would like the monthly bill to exclude educator unions. They see the legislation as violating local regulate and don’t imagine the point out has the authority to dictate whether school districts identify personnel unions.


Colorado is moving ahead with programs for universal preschool, a essential plank in Gov. Jared Polis’ education and learning system. Lawmakers very last year set up a new state office of early childhood education to oversee the rollout of a method funded by voter-accepted taxes on nicotine goods. This 12 months, lawmakers have to have to act on a collection of tips about how the system will truly do the job. All those consist of making confident preschool reaches kids who will need it most, that family members have plenty of possibilities, and that the application procedure is quick.

“We want to ensure the new office is all set to administer early childhood in the fall of 2023,” mentioned state Sen. Janet Buckner, the Aurora Democrat top the effort.

Workforce instruction

Even just before the pandemic, Colorado leaders required extra of the state’s populace to generate a university diploma or credential, supplied the maximize in careers requiring college coaching, but higher education enrollment has declined in the course of the pandemic.

Thanks to the American Rescue Prepare Act of 2021, Colorado has about $3.8 billion to support recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Now lawmakers want to figure out how to expend that funds, including on helping citizens hook up to job coaching. That work will be guided by recommendations from the 1330 Commission, produced by final year’s Bigger Schooling University student Good results laws.

How lawmakers earmark the cash could carry Colorado inhabitants most in will need of work opportunities and open up up school to numerous more people.

It would also symbolize a big investment decision in postsecondary instruction, particularly offered that Polis’ proposed 1{ac23b82de22bd478cde2a3afa9e55fd5f696f5668b46466ac4c8be2ee1b69550} boost in bigger instruction funding does not preserve pace with inflation.

Pandemic recovery

The omicron surge straining K-12 schools and faculties defies an easy legislative resolve, specially to treatment lecturers absences and deficiency of substitutes.

Additional income would aid handle scholar mental health desires and alleviate annoying classroom environments, but will not find a lot more counselors.

Home Schooling Committee Chair Barbara McLachlan, a Durango Democrat and previous trainer, is performing on laws to carry far more college staff back again from retirement and to broaden a program that pairs new principals with knowledgeable mentors. Long phrase, improving upon faculty leadership will improve trainer retention, she stated.

Condition Rep. Colin Larson, a Littleton Republican, hopes a monthly bill to provide grants for revolutionary transportation ideas could ease the escalating bus driver scarcity.

With university student general performance on standardized math exams falling all through the pandemic, Larson needs to boost greater math instruction.

Republicans will request means to get income to mom and dad to deal with instructional needs, an energy that Democrats will virtually certainly oppose as opening a back door to vouchers.

“The mom and dad know,” explained condition Sen. Paul Lundeen, a Monument Republican. “They know what their child’s working experience has been and what their child’s desires are.”

Senate Instruction Committee Chair Rachel Zenzinger, in the meantime, needs educational facilities with serious small test scores to have the choice of changing to group educational institutions, with wraparound solutions that assist learners and family members with demands exterior the classroom.

Bret Miles, who heads up the Colorado Affiliation of College Executives, is begging the legislature not to place extra burdens on college suitable now.

“Can we not do 80 bills to try out to deal with schooling this yr?” he requested. “Educators are fatigued. I want legislators to hear that each individual time they transform all around.”