Colorado Legislative Session: A Win for Colorado's Kids

Blogs, Letters & Testimonials

May 7, 2015



The 70th General Assembly of the Colorado State Legislature came to a close yesterday and we’re happy to share that DFER champions ensured this session was a win for Colorado kids.

We saw Governor Hickenlooper take a strong stance on the importance of a balanced approach on testing and standards, we saw the former Speaker of the House deliver eloquent testimony on the importance of statewide assessments and we, along with our legislators and partners, spent countless hours negotiating, testifying, and working so that kids in our state will have a better and equitable future.

Special shout outs for DFER champions Rep. Millie Hamner, Senators Mike Johnston and Andy Kerr, Reps. John Buckner, Brittany Pettersen, Rhonda Fields, Alec Garnett, Pete Lee and Dominick Moreno in particular for their work addressing the 1202 Task Force concerns by coming together with a solution. HB1323 protects our youngest and most at-risk learners, maintains high standards, and reduces the number of hours of testing. It was a common sense response to CO parents, students and educators to reduce testing, while protecting accountability, critical federal support dollars, and what students and parents deserve from our K-12 system.

Before the final vote on HB1323 in the last ticking hours of the session, Rep. Millie Hamner was right on when she said,  “We did it. We did it with bi-partisan support, no conference committees and the support of the Governor’s office.”

Other critical wins this year include the Pay For Success Act, led by DFERs Sen. Mike Johnston and Rep. Alec Garnett, which paves the way for private investors to pay for intervention programs upfront. This could include projects that attempt to lower special education costs, reduce child abuse and increase on-time graduation rates. We feel that this opens some exciting doors for early childhood initiatives in Colorado.

And, how wonderful that DPS kids scored big with the passage of HB1391, which would have cost DPS schools $20 million if it weren’t for DFER champion Rep. Lois Court fighting back against political games in the final hours of the session. Now DPS can put the $20 million saved directly back to support classrooms and teachers.

As we look ahead to next year, we are reminded of DFER Board member and champion Hon. Terrance Carroll’s testimony this session when he referenced civil rights leader Malcolm X who said “education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”

Thank you DFER champions who fought for our kids every day during the 120 day legislative endurance race. Your leadership helped Colorado kids walk away with some wins.

Jen Walmer
DFER-CO State Director