The 2012 Legislative Session has begun and there are many bills of interest to students, parents and educators alike, here are just a few:
- House Bill 12–1001 Rule Revising Evaluation of Educator Effectiveness, signed 2/15/2012.
- House Bill 12–1013 Interventions for Middle School Students at risk of dropping out; signed 2/15/2012.
- House Bill 12–1091 Reduce Assessments to Federal Requirements; postponed indefinitely
- Senate Bill 12–116 “Bath Salts” as a controlled substance; in committee
- Senate Joint Resolution 12–006 No Unfunded Mandates; 3rd reading senate 4/5/2012
Below are notes from the Lobato v. Colorado decision rendered December 9, 2011. This landmark case finds that the Colorado school finance system is unconstitutional and severely underfunded. The court orders the Colorado Legislature to follow the constitution and fund education such that all Colorado students receive a “thorough and uniform” education. It is estimated that the education system is $4 billion underfunded. The State of Colorado is almost certain to appeal this decision to the Colorado Supreme Court.
- When the Public School Finance Act of 1994 (PSFA) was enacted, there was no effort to analyze the relationship between a quality education and the funding required for that education.
- The PSFA has never been adjusted to address the costs associated with the implementation of quality education. In fact, in the past two years, the General Assembly has decreased funding by nearly $1 billion dollars.
- Recent amendments to the standards-based system have substantially increased the costs of public education: CAP4K (2008), Education Accountability Act (2009), SB10-191 (effective teachers amendment 2010). These major initiatives and many others were completely unfunded.
- Capital construction funding is totally dependent on highly unequal local property tax wealth; “the deplorable conditions of numerous rural schools bears witness to this.”
- “The State of Colorado is now required to design, enact, fund and implement a system of public school finance that provides and assures that adequate, necessary, and sufficient funds are available in a manner rationally related to accomplish the purposes of the Education Clause and the Local Control Clause.”
On January 23, 2012 the State of Colorado filed its notice of appeal raising fourteen issues seeking either reversal of the trial court’s decision or a remand for a new trial. However, according to plaintiff’s attorney, Kathy Gebhardt, “All of the state’s bases for appeal are technical arguments that do not speak to whether students are getting a constitutionally adequate education.” Unless the state expedites the appeals process the next major milestone in this case will be in June, 2012. All briefings and arguments should be done by fall and a decision could come before the end of the year.
That said, there is no reason that the legislature cannot take action to address the profound inadequacies in our school funding system.
Please refer back to this website for updates on the upcoming Legislative Session for 2012 or please go to www.greateducation.org for additional information on Lobato v Colorado. Thank you!