Vail Daily column: We can do better |

Vail Daily column: We can do better

School is out; let the vacation begin.

A lot has happened since the legislative session ended on May 11. Rep. Bob Rankin and I had a vacation lined up celebrating the end of another busy term at the Capitol. On the first day, I received a call from the education department stating that the commissioner had resigned and we had to attend — the next day — an emergency meeting to accept his resignation. Fortunately, I was able to call in when the vote was taken. The deputy commissioner, Dr. Katy Anthes, agreed to stand in during the transition so things continue to move smoothly within the department. The state board has been great to work with and I’m confident my colleagues and I will move through the process as they find a new commissioner. Stay tuned for updates.

I was happy to learn that two of the summer board meetings will be held in my district, June in Pueblo and August in Grand Junction. Meetings are open to the public. Come join us.

Planned highlights of the Pueblo board meeting include a presentation by Pueblo 60 school district of its request for an Innovation Zone plan. The district wants to add three schools to the existing three schools already on innovation status to create an Innovation Zone. An Innovation Zone provides additional flexibility and local control to schools for the purpose of meeting individual student needs. Following the presentation, the board will vote to accept or deny the new program. The board will focus on whether the new plan will ensure academic growth and whether it is fiscally feasible.

I was happy to be able to spend a day in Grand Junction with Steve Schultz, superintendent of Mesa County district 51. I attended a graduation ceremony and saw the innovative new strategies that the district is pursuing. I’m convinced that it will lead the state in the adoption of exciting new student based techniques.

In December of 2015, President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act, which begins in the 2017-’18 school year. During the month of May the Colorado Department of Education began a listening tour throughout the state facilitating community discussions about standards, assessments, accountability and support for students and parents as the program is rolled out. While the Every Student Succeeds Act does seem to offer more flexibility, there will still be concerns over the amount of federal control being exercised over our local schools.

We all want opportunity for our students through our public schools. We know what works from some very good examples right here in Colorado. I’m dedicated to making extraordinary opportunities available to every student in my district. We can do better!

Joyce Rankin represents the 3rd Congressional District, which includes the western part of Eagle County, on the State Board of Education.

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