Who Is In Charge

More work for another day

A number of interesting education bills were on legislative floor calendars Monday, but most were laid over for later consideration.

Colorado CapitolAmong the delayed were the bill on charter school access to vacant district buildings (House Bill 11-1055), the measure increasing the state stipend for some private college students (House Bill 11-1168) and the mandatory physical activity bill (House Bill 11-1069).

The Senate actually started preliminary debate on HB 11-1069, the discussion turning out to be a reprise by Senate Education Committee members of what they’d already talked about during the committee hearing.

But, the debate dragged in, wandering into gender differences and joking about why girls perform better in school than boys. Senate Majority Leader John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, finally interrupted the fun, saying, “Amendments are flying around and whatnot, so I’m going to lay this bill over until tomorrow.”

Later in the day the House Education Committee Monday voted 12-0 to pass an amended version of Senate Bill 11-012, the measure that would allow school districts to adopt their own policies on student carrying and self-administration of prescription drugs.

A couple of amendments were added, one of which limits students to carrying just enough medicine for one day or event.

Representatives of Colorado Association of School Nurses and the American Academy of Pediatrics testified that they still have concerns with the bill, specifically that it might mean less supervision by medical professionals of student prescription use.

Current state law lays out a detailed procedure for parents who want their students to be able to carry asthma inhalers and allergic reaction injection devices at school. The bill is intended to make things easier for parents and administrators in smaller districts who may find following the law cumbersome. The measure would allow districts to opt out of the law and create their own systems, within certain parameters.

A raft of lower profile bills did move along Monday. Here’s a rundown:

House preliminary approval

  • Senate Bill 11-061 – Streamlining of special education appeals
  • Senate Bill 11-106 – Repeal of science and technology grants board
  • Senate Bill 11-029 – Improved reporting by State Land Board
  • Senate Bill 11-101 – Continuation of fixed rate and fee program

Senate final approval

  • House Bill 11-1017 – Vacancy procedures for student and faculty advisors to Auraria board
  • House Bill 11-1060 – Staggering of UNC trustee terms

Senate preliminary approval

  • House Bill 11-1074 – Technical measure on School of Mines financial aid

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


Aurora’s superintendent will get a contract extension

Aurora Public Schools Superintendent Rico Munn. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

The Aurora school board is offering superintendent Rico Munn a contract extension.

Marques Ivey, the school board president, made the announcement during Tuesday’s regular board meeting.

“The board of education believes we are headed in the right direction,” Ivey said. Munn can keep the district going in the right direction, he added.

The contract extension has not been approved yet. Munn said Tuesday night that it had been sent to his lawyer, but he had not had time to review it.

Munn took the leadership position in Aurora Public Schools in 2013. His current contract is set to expire at the end of June.

Munn indicated he intends to sign the new contract after he has time to review it. If he does so, district leaders expect the contract to be on the agenda of the board’s next meeting, April 3, for a first review, and then for a vote at the following meeting.

Details about the new offer, including the length of the extension or any salary increases, have not been made public.

Four of the seven members currently on the board were elected in November as part of a union-supported slate. Many voiced disapproval of some of the superintendent’s reform strategies such as his invitation to charter school network DSST to open in Aurora.

In their first major vote as a new board, the board also voted against the superintendent’s recommendation for the turnaround of an elementary school, signaling a disagreement with the district’s turnaround strategies.

But while several Aurora schools remain low performing, last year the district earned a high enough rating from the state to avoid a path toward state action.

cooling off

New York City charter leader Eva Moskowitz says Betsy DeVos is not ‘ready for prime time’

PHOTO: Chalkbeat
Success Academy CEO and founder Eva Moskowitz seemed to be cooling her support for U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

In New York City, Eva Moskowitz has been a lone voice of support for the controversial U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. But even Moskowitz appears to be cooling on the secretary following an embarrassing interview.

“I believe her heart is in the right place,” Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy, said of DeVos at an unrelated press conference. “But as the recent interviews indicate, I don’t believe she’s ready for primetime in terms of answering all of the complex questions that need to be answered on the topic of public education and choice.”

That is an apparent reference to DeVos’s roundly criticized appearance on 60 Minutes, which recently aired a 30-minute segment in which the secretary admits she hasn’t visited struggling schools in her tenure. Even advocates of school choice, DeVos’s signature issue, called her performance an “embarrassment,” and “Saturday Night Live” poked fun at her.  

Moskowitz’s comments are an about-face from when the education secretary was first appointed. While the rest of the New York City charter school community was mostly quiet after DeVos was tapped for the position, Moskowitz was the exception, tweeting that she was “thrilled.” She doubled-down on her support months later in an interview with Chalkbeat.

“I believe that education reform has to be a bipartisan issue,” she said.

During Monday’s press conference, which Success Academy officials called to push the city for more space for its growing network, Moskowitz also denied rumors, fueled by a tweet from AFT President Randi Weingarten, that Success officials had recently met with members of the Trump administration.

Shortly after the election, Moskowitz met with Trump amid speculation she was being considered for the education secretary position. This time around, she said it was “untrue” that any visits had taken place.

“You all know that a while back, I was asked to meet with the president-elect. I thought it was important to take his call,” she said. “I was troubled at the time by the Trump administration. I’m even more troubled now. And so, there has been no such meeting.”