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Jenna EllisJenna EllisApril 24, 20189min750

In the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on April 18, liberals displayed shockingly self-serving and politically biased discrimination against equal protection for all Colorado citizens. Ironically, the context was Colorado’s Civil Rights Division (CCRD) and its accompanying Civil Rights Commission (CCRC), which review claims under Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act. Both agencies are currently undergoing the statutorily required sunset-review process.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMay 17, 20173min713

Believe it or not, plenty of Colorado K-12 students owe fines for overdue library books, damaged or missing textbooks, and the like. If you are a parent, you already know this.

Especially for some households of modest means, forking it over can amount to more than just an incidental expense. And even if paying the fines isn’t that big a deal for other families, the question arises: Is failure to pay them a big enough deal to warrant withholding a student’s transcripts?

Before you answer, know this: Gov. John Hickenlooper thinks the answer is no, and he made that clear by signing House Bill 1301 into law today. (OK, now you can go ahead and answer the question.)

What’s HB 1301? The state House Democrats thought you’d ask. From a press release the House Dems’ press office issued today:

HB17-1301 prevents a school or school district from withholding records required for enrollment in another school or institution of higher education, such as a transcript or diploma, for failure to pay any fine or fee assessed by the school. This includes fines related to returning or replacing textbooks, library resources or other school property.

So, is it a get-out-of-jail-free card? Perhaps, a blank check to run up the tab on overdue books or missing texts because, by statute, there now will be no meaningful consequences? The press release addresses that, too, quoting House sponsor Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City:

“We must give every student access to a free public education … That includes access to their grades and transcripts if they need to change schools or reenroll. Grades, transcripts and academic records belong to the student and no student should be prevented from receiving or continuing their education because of inability to pay.”

And it noted this:

Testimony during the bill’s hearing before the House Education Committee pointed out that the policy of withholding transcripts can lead to low-income students dropping out of school. Martin Schneider with the Community Prep School in Colorado Springs said that half of the students at the school each year are new students and 35 percent of those students have unpaid fines from previous schools—most fines are less than $30.00. Many students and their families don’t have an ability to pay those fines which acted as a barrier up until now for students seeking to continue their education.

It probably didn’t hurt the bill’s chances that it was bipartisan. No less a no-nonsense conservative than Senate Republican Majority Leader Chris Holbert, of Parker, was the Senate co-sponsor along with Aurora Democrat Rhonda Fields.

 

 



Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMarch 3, 20172min325

English-language learners in elementary school should be able to prove their reading skills in one language — the one in which they are being taught — rather than have to test in two languages as is sometimes now the case. That’s the gist of House Bill 1160, bipartisan legislation that won unanimous approval this morning in the state House.

The proposal is the handiwork of two Democrats — Rep. Millie Hamner of Dillon and Sen. Rhonda Fields of Aurora — and two Republicans: Rep. Jim Wilson of Salida and Sen. Kevin Priola of Henderson.

Lawmakers lauded the vote in a press release from the House Democrats:

“This test is meant to demonstrate how well a student can read, and when it’s given to students in their language of instruction, it gives us better indicators of reading ability and gives teachers the information they need to help their students improve,” said Rep. Hamner. “This bill cuts testing time and increases instructional time for the very students who need it.”

“It was great to work with Rep. Hamner on this bill,” said Rep. Wilson. “It simplifies the process to answer two critical questions: one, can you read? And two, how well?”

As the press release also explains:

Currently, although the purpose is to evaluate reading ability and not language proficiency, some students are required to take their annual reading assessment in both Spanish and English. Double testing these students unnecessarily overburdens a specific subgroup of students, risks misidentifying English learners as having significant reading deficiencies, and is not aligned with other state assessment policies.

The measure now heads to the state Senate, where it presumably will get favorable treatment, as well.