Before we get started with our legislative updates for this week, I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Bri Buentello and I am the new Government Affairs Director at Stand. I will be sending you weekly updates on what is happening at the Capitol as it relates to education policy. Most recently, I represented the House District 47 in the State Legislature and was proud to serve as vice-chair of the House Education Committee. Prior to that, I was a special education teacher at Pueblo’s East High School. We are excited to engage with you in new ways and share behind the scenes updates on policymaking this year! Stay tuned for more about how you can follow along.
The legislature convened this week after a month-long recess aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. A very busy week kicked off on Tuesday with the introduction of over 200 bills that run the gambit on addressing how to support students post-pandemic to school finance and teacher diversity. Chalkbeat has an excellent rundown on the initial education bills introduced so far here.
The House and Senate Education Committees will begin meeting this week. To see who is on the Senate Education Committee Members and the House Education Committee Members.
Polis Delivers State of the State
On Wednesday, Governor Jared Polis gave his State of the State address. As Chalkbeat reports, “The governor focused heavily on health care, pandemic relief, and the state’s preservation of lands and shift to sustainable energy. He renewed calls for paid family leave and affordable higher education, but his speech was short on details. Colorado needs to restore money to education budgets that faced deep cuts last year, he said, and the state needs to work toward a fairer system of distributing that money, a politically challenging task that has made little progress in the legislature.”
He also called out an effort being led by Representative Leslie Herod and Senator Janet Buckner to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline, saying, “The ongoing effort to ensure opportunity and justice means more. It means taking our leads from Representative Leslie Herod and Senator Janet Buckner to stop the school to prison pipeline by investing more in school counselors and less in overly harsh punishments.”
We are happy to see things start moving again at the Capitol and we’re carefully reviewing the education related bills as they are introduced. We are waiting on a number of measures to be introduced, including some of our priority legislation. We were happy to hear Governor Polis mention in his State of the State address the effort to disrupt and end the school to prison pipeline led by Rep. Leslie Herod and Sen. Janet Bucker. This is a top priority for Stand for Children this session and we look forward to sharing more information with you.
This legislative session, we continue to focus on our priorities around early literacy, early childhood, high school success, and racial justice. We will be advocating for:
- Increased education funding and ensure that resources are more equitably distributed and spent well
- Every student to read on grade level
- Well prepared, high quality, and diverse educators in every school
- Expansion of high-quality pre-k opportunities across Colorado
- 9th graders to complete their first year of high school on-track to graduate
- Policies to dramatically increase racial equity in schools and dismantle the policies that disproportionally lead to disciplinary actions against students of color