Berthoud Weekly Surveyor | Covering all the angles in the Garden Spot

Education transparency bill fails in Colorado House

By: Dan Karpiel | The Surveyor | March 11, 2022 | Education

Public education policy has long been ranked at or near the top of concerns for voters – particularly among parents in swing-district heavy suburban areas – according to a plethora of polls published in recent years.

During this year’s session of the Colorado General Assembly, a Republican-backed bill aimed to increase transparency in public education was defeated in the Education Committee in the State House of Representatives on a party-line vote.

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Tim Geitner (R-El Paso County), would have required, beginning in the 2022-23 school year, for each school district to post online a list of course material for each grade, subject and course; a copy of each surveyor, nonacademic assessment, analysis, and evaluation distributed to students; a list of the devices, programs, and software that the local education provider uses that collect student biometric data; and information concerning the professional development requirements for educators whom the local education provider employs, according to the official draft of the legislation.

Prior to taking the official vote in committee on March 3, Rep. Geitner amended the bill by removing the requirement everything be posted online at the start of the school but rather to provide anyone, parent or otherwise, any and all information within seven days of submitting a formal request.

The bill was indefinitely postponed on a 6-3, party-line vote with Democrat Representatives Jennifer Bacon, Tony Exum, Cathy Kipp, Susan Lontine, Barbara McLachlan and Mary Young voting to postpone and Republican Representatives Geitner, Mark Baisley and Colin Larson opposed.

The measure is similar to others under consideration in more than a dozen state houses nationwide. Education policy analysts explain that the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in months and months of remote learning, raised concerns among some parents about public schools teaching controversial topics on subjects of race, sexuality and American history.

Rep. Geitner and supporters of the measure argued the goal of the legislation was simply to increase transparency and accountability with public school curricula, helping to empower parents who have concerns about what their children are learning about in school. Rep. Geitner’s proposal, unlike some others under consideration in other states, would not penalize schools for teaching controversial topics.

The now-defeated measure would have extended beyond course materials and would have, in its final draft, for schools to provide details on various nonacademic surveys, such as the Healthy Kids survey and similar metrics as well as provide details of any technology that collects biometric data on students.

Opponents of the measure argued that requiring the publication of the materials would put further strain on teachers, administrators and district officials who are already over-worked and face scrutiny from parents and others in their local communities. The Colorado Education Association, the statewide teachers’ union, was adamantly opposed to the measure.

Per Colorado statute, the state legislature does not have influence over the specifics of what is and what is not taught in state public schools, allowing each individual district and their corresponding school board to decide on standards.

In an interview with the Surveyor last summer, Thompson School District (TSD) Chief Academic Officer Dawne Huckaby, who recently announced she will be retiring at the end of the school year, stated the district crafts their curricula in accordance with the Colorado Academic Standards, stating that the TSD “does not teach critical race theory,” one of the more controversial education topics which has been a focus of the nationwide debate over education.

While the measure was defeated in committee and will not receive a vote on the floor of the State House, Geitner, who announced he is not seeking reelection in November, stated he hopes the measure will help create debate among parents, school boards and policy makers about education transparency.

 

 

 

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