‘Revolutionary’ education plan for Colorado? | VailDaily.com

‘Revolutionary’ education plan for Colorado?

Steven K. Paulson
Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado

DENVER, Colorado ” Gov. Bill Ritter offered a major education package in his State of the State speech on Thursday, calling it a “revolutionary shift” to align public education with college admission standards.

“If ever there was a place to be bold and ambitious, to push hard and fast against the status quo, this is it,” Ritter said in prepared remarks.

Ritter, a Democrat starting his second year in office, also outlined plans for developing the economy, cutting health care costs and improving transportation. He agreed with lawmakers that Colorado must take steps this year to resolve conflicting spending mandates in the state Constitution.

The cornerstone of his speech was his education plan, which he called the Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids.

“Education is the cornerstone of our economy and it dictates how we will move Colorado forward in the 21st century,” he said.

He called his plan “the most revolutionary shift in education policy this state has seen in years.”

Ritter told a joint session of the House and Senate that Colorado has focused too much on “seat time” and course titles and not enough on whether students are actually learning.

“When nearly one-third of college freshmen in Colorado require remedial training, something is wrong,” he said.

Responding to Republican criticism that he has no discernible agenda, Ritter also issued a 40-page “Book of Accomplishments,” touting progress on his campaign promises to improve education, health care and transportation, developing the renewable energy as an economic driver, and protecting the environment.

For business, Ritter proposed a change in the business personal property tax exemption to ease the burden on more than 30,000 small businesses, simplifying tax calculations for corporations, creating a $3.5 million-a-year fund to develop life-science and biosciences businesses and dedicating $3.5 million from the Clean Energy Fund to economic-development activity.

On health care, he said he would focus this year on controlling costs, eliminating waste, improving quality and expanding access to public health programs for low-income children and other vulnerable people.

On transportation, Ritter said he wants to encourage alternatives that will cut down on pollution and give travelers more options. He said he’s waiting on a panel to identify alternate funding sources to replace dwindling transportation funding from the federal government and from fuel taxes.

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