Teacher tenure bill up for first vote at Colo. Capitol
Associated Press Writer
DENVER – The state’s largest teachers’ union is opposing a proposal to require teachers to earn and keep job protections, arguing that officials should fix problems with how teachers are evaluated first.
Meanwhile, Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter and three former governors – two Democrats and one Republican – are supporting the legislation, aimed at helping win $175 million in federal funding for education reform.
The proposal, which faces its first vote at the Capitol on Thursday, is aimed at helping Colorado win $175 million in education reform funding from the federal government.
Currently, teachers can get tenure status after three years in a the classroom, and it’s difficult and costly to dismiss any teachers later found to be ineffective.
The bipartisan legislation would require that teachers earn tenure by showing that their students show improvement for three consecutive years. Teachers that have tenure now could lose it if their students don’t show academic improvement for two straight years.
Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, and Sen. Nancy Spence, R-Centennial, originally proposed imposing the new standards starting next year. Teachers argued that was too soon since a panel appointed by Gov. Bill Ritter was still coming up with the details on how officials would determine whether students were making progress.
Johnston and Spence have since proposed waiting until 2013 to change the standard for earning tenure. The process of losing tenure wouldn’t start until 2014.
But the Colorado Education Association is concerned that any teachers who lose tenure wouldn’t have a right to challenge their dismissal as they do now.
CEA president Beverly Ingle also told committee members Wednesday that there’s a lack of trust between administrators and teachers, and that the details about how teachers should be evaluated before sanctions are addressed. She said current education plans change yearly based on the latest standardized test results and teachers don’t always have access to the data they need to help students.
In a joint statement, the former governors – Richard Lamm, Roy Romer and Bill Owens – and Ritter said they think the bill has the most promise of any current proposal for transforming education.
“That is why we join forces today to call on the legislature to do what’s best for Colorado’s kids and support SB 191,” they said.
The measure is Senate Bill 191.