Even if the Groundhog hadn’t seen his shadow this morning, the reluctant news would still be well more than six weeks of Colorado’s legislative session remaining. Too early for me to be ground into the dust, but at the same time too many important things going on for me to run back and hide in my cage (Note to Oakland Raiders fans: That’s a groundhog metaphor, not a reference to how my Education Policy Center friends treat me).
One of the first important items to pop up is next Monday’s scheduled committee hearing for House Bill 1149, aka Parent Trigger II. This lighter version of last year’s Parent Trigger bill by Rep. Don Beezley looks like it at least will have a chance to go further than the House Education Committee, unlike last year’s proposal.
In a nutshell, HB 1149 gives parents of students in low-performing schools greater voice to speed up the process of closing, turning around or converting the school. Currently, the State Board has to intervene in struggling schools designated “priority improvement” or “turnaround” after five years. The new proposal would empower parents during the third year of the process. If 50 percent of them sign a petition, the State Board would only be obligated to give them a hearing before taking one of three options:
- Do nothing (i.e., continue the existing improvement plan);
- Wait and schedule a reevaluation of the school’s plan for the following (fourth) year; or
- Direct the Commissioner of Education to convene a review panel to make recommendations.
Okay, so it’s hardly a huge, radical change, and not nearly as strong as the original version. But it does give parents in low-performing schools a little more power and potentially a lot more voice.
According to the Colorado Department of Education’s School Performance Framework, 221 of the state’s 1,806 schools and alternative education centers are operating under a priority improvement or turnaround plan. Of that number, 105 (representing a variety of schools from Denver and Pueblo, as well as rural and suburban areas) will be going into the third year and should be immediately affected by the legislation.
While Colorado’s HB 1149 doesn’t appear to be as potent as the “parent trigger” proposals coming forward this year in places like Arizona, Florida, Indiana and Louisiana, it is a small step in the right direction.
In the meantime, inquiring minds want to know whether anyone will see little Eddie’s shadow peeking around the State Capitol in the coming days. Wait and see, there should be enough time. Fourteen more weeks of legislative session, you say? As tempting as it sounds, guess I can’t roll over and go back to sleep yet….