Capitol Week in Review

Legislation | 04/06/2021

Bri Buentello
Government Affairs Director

Legislative Update

This week, we’re bringing you an update on key bills we are tracking.

SB21-151, Literacy Curriculum Transparency was passed by the Senate this week. This bill will require school districts to publicly share what curriculum they are using to teach reading, how they spend their Reading to Ensure Academic Development (READ) Act dollars, and how many kids are on READ Plans.

SB21-185, Supporting Educator Workforce In Colorado, seeks to address the educator shortage in Colorado. Some estimates have as many as three teaching positions open for every two qualified applicants. Importantly, the bill prioritizes recruitment and retention of teachers who are black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). According to the Colorado Department of Education, our classrooms have more than 43% BIPOC students. Our teacher workforce is more than 87% white, and over 70% of all Colorado school districts don’t have a single black teacher in their entire district. The Senate Education Committee voted 5-2 this week to pass the bill and it was referred to the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

HB21-1194- Immigration Legal Defense Fund which creates the immigration legal defense fund for qualifying nonprofit organizations that provide legal advice, counseling, and representation for, and on behalf of people subject to an immigration proceeding. HB21-1194 was heard in the House Judiciary Committee this week and was passed and referred to the Committee on Appropriations by a vote of 7-4.

SB21-116 to Prohibit American Indian Mascots passed the Senate Education Committee by a vote of 5-2 and will next be considered by the entire Senate. This bill would ban all schools from having Native American mascots.

For a full list of education bills, check out Chalkbeat’s Colorado Education Bill Tracker.

Our Take

We are pleased to see the Senate pass SB21-151 to require districts to share information on how they teach reading, including which curriculum used by school how the district spends READ Act dollars.

We believe that literacy is a civil right and the key to unlocking a life of promise. People who can read and write can navigate our systems and work to make necessary changes to those systems. While literacy rates in our state remain unacceptably low, reporting by Chalkbeat's Ann Schimke shows a huge number of schools across the state using a reading curriculum that is not aligned to scientifically based approaches called for by our READ Act. Families deserve to be able to easily access information about the approaches being used at their child's school.

Our Executive Director Krista Spurgin told Chalkbeat, “There’s no reason that we shouldn’t take the time to inform communities of how we’re doing and what tools we’re using,” Spurgin said. “It is just such an easy step to take.”

Our lobbyist Benjamin Waters and me at the Capitol this week for the Senate Education Committee hearing. Benjamin testified on behalf of Stand in favor of SB21-185.

Take Action

Ask your Representatives to Support SB21-182!

Senate Bill 182 builds stronger, healthier schools in Colorado by addressing racial inequity, keeping students learning in school, and ending unnecessary involvement with the criminal justice system.

For More Information

Colorado reading bills seeking more transparency and teacher training extension move forward

A job or a civic duty? Colorado weighs paying school board members

Colorado students will take modified CMAS exams this spring following federal approval

Colorado Education Bill Tracker, Chalkbeat

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