Gov. Bill Ritter, in his first State of the State address, set the goal of cutting Colorado’s dropout rate in half within 10 years, though he offered little detail on his education agenda.
Gov. Ritter, a Democrat, also called for reducing by half over the next decade the achievement gap on state test scores between poor and some minority students and better-performing groups.
As of last week, however, the governor had not given detailed budget plans for the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Former Gov. Bill Owens, a Republican who left office this month after two terms, submitted a budget proposal last fall, but the new governor may amend that plan before the legislature acts on it. State K-12 spending for the current fiscal year is $3.4 billion.
“[T]oo many of our kids are dropping out of high school,” Gov. Ritter said in his Jan. 11 address to the legislature. This is the first time in more than four decades that Democrats have controlled both the legislature and the governor’s office.
“Our achievement gap is too wide,” the governor said, “and we aren’t doing enough to partner with teachers to help them improve student learning.”
Gov. Ritter said about 30 percent of Colorado high school students don’t graduate. The figure rises to roughly half of all black, Latino, and American Indian students, he said.
The governor also said Colorado needs to create more slots for preschool programs. And he said that while he believes Colorado has made substantial progress in establishing school accountability measures, a new effort should be made to “strengthen and streamline our different accountability programs.”
Read a complete transcript of Gov. Bill Ritter’s 2007 State of the State address. Posted by Colorado’s Office of the Governor.
A version of this article appeared in the January 24, 2007 edition of Education Week