Teaching Profession

Colorado Governors Present and Past Push Teacher Bill

April 23, 2010 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Colorado is shaping up to follow Florida as the next big battleground over teacher tenure and evaluation.

A couple of key differences to note, however: The Colorado proposal would not abolish tenure for new teachers (as it would have in Florida), the author of the bill is a Democrat, and the Democratic governor, Bill Ritter, is a strong supporter of the measure (remember that Florida’s bill was backed by Republicans and GOP Gov. Charlie Crist wavered on the matter until deciding to veto it last week). Oh, and there’s that little matter of politics. Gov. Ritter isn’t running for a thing, while Gov. Crist is trailing badly in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate.

But as in Florida, the teachers’ unions in Colorado are staunch opponents. Today, as the bill is due to receive its first vote, teachers are planning to rally against it at the state Capitol in Denver.

Gov. Ritter ‘s position is getting a very public boost from his three predecessors—Bill Owens, Roy Romer, and Dick Lamm—who joined him in writing an op-ed that urges the state Legislature to pass the state Senate measure that would tie teacher evaluations to students’ academic growth and make it more difficult to obtain and keep tenure. Owens is the only Republican in the group, and Romer, of course, is the former superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District and now seems to work as a consultant on education issues.

This afternoon, Alyson Klein (of Politics K-12) and I are going to be sitting down with Gov. Ritter to discuss a wide range of issues. Stay tuned to this space for more insight into his thinking on the teacher bill.

UPDATE: As the Senate education committee in Colorado was voting to pass the teacher bill on a 7 to 1 vote Friday, Gov. Ritter was in Washington with his wife and teenage daughter. He sat down with me and Alyson to talk about ESEA reauthorization, Race to the Top, and the teacher bill.

For the Democratic governor, who is not seeking re-election, his support for the teacher bill has put him at odds with the Colorado Education Association, usually an ally.

“I’ve had a great relationship with our education association,” he said. “I can understand why teachers would bridle at a system that takes away that kind of security. This is the first time we’ve parted ways, but I think on this one, I’m right.”

The governor said he’s sympathetic to teacher concerns about the fairness of a new evaluation system linked to student achievement and using that system to decide who gets tenure and who keeps it. Teachers were also worried that a new evaluation system would be rushed through in order to meet deadlines for applying for the federal Race to the Top competition, a complaint that the governor said he thought was legitimate.

Sen. Mike Johnston, the bill’s author, shaped the measure so that the adoption of a new evaluation system and when it would start to be used for tenure decisions would be spread out over a few years.

“That helped me to get to the point of supporting it,” Gov. Ritter said.

The governor, who gave that money quote to the The New York Times about the Race to the Top judges, didn’t back away from his remarks even as his state gears up to compete in the contest’s second round.

He said he’s still baffled over how Colorado, which was one of 16 finalists in the competition’s first round, lost more points for school district buy-in than for not having a law that ties teacher evaluations to student achievement.

“With the districts that had signed on, we were covering 95 percent of our students across the state,” he said. “Yet somehow that five percent we didn’t cover counted against us more than teacher evaluations.”

For round two, it looks very doubtful that Colorado will get the kind of stakeholder support it had for its round one application, especially from the CEA, according to Michele McNeil’s latest story. In the end, buy-in might doom the state’s chances in round two as well.

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
Strategies for Incorporating SEL into Curriculum
Empower students to thrive. Learn how to integrate powerful social-emotional learning (SEL) strategies into the classroom.
Content provided by Be GLAD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Leadership in Education: Building Collaborative Teams and Driving Innovation
Learn strategies to build strong teams, foster innovation, & drive student success.
Content provided by Follett Learning
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Principals, Lead Stronger in the New School Year
Join this free virtual event for a deep dive on the skills and motivation you need to put your best foot forward in the new year.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession The NEA Faces an Unexpected Labor Adversary—Its Own Staff Union
Staff for the nation’s largest teachers’ union picketed at its Washington headquarters Thursday, striking for the first time in decades.
3 min read
Staff of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, strike outside the organization's building in Washington on June 20, 2024. The staff union alleges that the NEA violated labor law.
Staff from the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union, protest outside the organization's building in Washington, D.C., on June 20, 2024.
Stephen Sawchuk/Education Week
Teaching Profession Teachers Report Lower Pay, More Stress Than Workers in Other Fields
It's yet another warning sign for the beleaguered profession.
4 min read
Teacher working on scheduling at desk.
E+
Teaching Profession Teachers Are Pushing for Paid Parental Leave. How It's Going
Efforts to implement paid parental leave policies are slowly gaining traction, with teachers often advocating on their own behalf.
7 min read
Image of a pregnant person at work.
E+