A task force charged with eliminating barriers to success in college and public school is recommending only three bills for Colorado’s next legislative session. Lawmakers say they’re cautious because it’s an election year and don’t know whether they can count on support.
Here is a transcript of Colorado Public Radio education reporter Jenny Brundin’s report on what the task force decided.
Adults who need help with basic reading and writing skills could get that help at the same time they get vocational certificates under one of the proposed bills. It’s aimed at helping some of the 360,000 working-age Coloradans who don’t have high school diplomas or GEDs. Frank Waterous of the non-profit Belly Policy Center says the bill would also address Colorado’s “middle skills gap” –jobs that require some training after high school, but less training than a 4-year baccalaureate.
Frank Waterous: And we simply have too few folks who are trained at that level, to fill those jobs.
Meantime, the task force didn’t endorse a bill aimed at tackling the problem of kids who chronically skip school. Right now students who have 4 unexcused absences a month or 10 per year are labeled “habitually truant.” Representative Rhonda Fields says judges often order them to juvenile detention for two weeks or more.
Rep. Rhonda Fields: I believe we should be looking at attendance and looking at the root cause versus putting someone in literally, a jail.
She wants to set a limit of 5 days in juvenile detention. She also wants schools to launch multi-pronged efforts to improve attendance –before sending students to court. But school officials on the task force argued that most districts are already doing all they can to intervene first. Fields says she’ll move forward with her bill anyways. The task force also signed off on a bill requiring schools to create a policy on when students are accelerated a grade. But it would be up to districts to make those policies.
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