What’s in store for education as legislature opens

By Erica Meltzer

THE COLORADO INDEPENDENT

The Colorado legislature convenes Friday with Democratic majorities in both chambers and a Democratic governor-elect who made education a key part of his campaign. That doesn’t mean 2019 is going to be one extended round of kumbaya.

Democratic lawmakers don’t necessarily share incoming governor Jared Polis’ education priorities, which include funding full-day kindergarten, nor do they agree among themselves about the legacy of previous education policy initiatives.

Leaders on the House and Senate education committees say governing comes with big responsibilities, and the need for careful compromise won’t go away.

“When you hold the majority to the degree that we do now, it is a massive responsibility,” said state Sen. Nancy Todd, an Aurora Democrat who will chair the Senate Education Committee. “The best bills that are ever passed are made up of urban and rural, Republican and Democratic. When I see those four elements, I say, ‘This is a Colorado bill.’”

Some issues, such as creating more opportunities for high school students to take college classes or gain meaningful work experience, will have broad bipartisan appeal, while others, like reassessing the state’s teacher effectiveness law or allocating scarce education dollars, likely will prove more contentious.

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