Member Joel Pennick of JE Dunn testifies in support of HB-1266

The 2020 Legislative Agenda: Focus on Students

Expanding opportunities for all students to succeed in school and tomorrow’s economy comes into full focus each year as the legislative session begins. This year is no different. As legislators convened a few weeks ago, we were ready to collaborate with them and our network to ensure we meet the mission of Vision 2030 through five major areas.

First, we will support legislation that expands career-connected learning so that more students are prepared to succeed in our changing economy. Further policy expansion will make it easier for districts to replicate the work of the 2019 Succeeds Prize for STEM Education, Cañon City. Cañon City High School leveraged funding that allows its students to complete the Professional and Internship Community Experience (PaICE), an opportunity for every high school student to gain first-hand experience in his/her career choice through a wide variety of partnership with businesses, professionals, and agencies in the Fremont County area. To expand opportunities like this across Colorado, we will focus on four major policies:

  • Supporting College Credit for Work Experience which requires a statewide framework for awarding postsecondary credit for learning demonstrated through work experience
  • Expanding Career Development Success Fund. This year’s budget shows a $2 million increase ($7 million total), which are financial incentives to districts for work-based learning
  • Supporting My Colorado Journey. The state budget recommended $750k through the General Fund for a new platform to provide students and families with the most accurate information on dynamically changing education, training, and career pathways
  • Scaling Innovative High School Model Expansion. This will allow for an increase the number of high schools where students can graduate with a diploma, postsecondary credential and career-connected learning (PTECH, Concurrent Enrollment)

Second, we will continue to champion choice and competition. We believe in funding students, not systems. This includes equitable funding for public charter schools and maintaining a high standard for charters without reducing their flexibility to innovate. Without continued support for choice and innovation, schools like 2019 Succeeds Prize winner for transformational impact in a middle school, Aurora’s Academy of Advanced Learning, where a student-first approach allows the school to meet the individual needs of each student, would not continue to operate. Among the key policies we’ll champion are:

  • Protecting funding for Charter School Institute (CSI) Schools. CSI schools do not have a mechanism to raise or receive local revenue. We will protect the $5 million increase included in the budget to put CSI schools on more equal footing with district schools
  • Protecting mill levy equalization laws that require equitable funding for all public schools students, and opposing efforts to undermine charter schools appeal rights and increased regulation on their inputs

Third, Colorado Succeeds will support early childhood education policies that align successful transitions between preschool and elementary school, ensure increased access, equity, quality, and affordability of preschool, and support the needs childcare and preschool workforce. Specifically, we will support:

  • Expanding of the number of students accessing high quality preschool
  • Improving ECE talent pipeline by supporting high quality college and career pathways, including expansion of work-based learning offerings and concurrent enrollment opportunities

Fourth, we support education funding that is concentrated on student needs and interests. In our view, school funding should be flexible and fractionalized allowing for greater educational options and enhancing student experiences and personalization. ​We believe, as mentioned above, in funding students, not systems. To do so, we will support:

  • Changing the school finance formula by focusing on the characteristics of students and less on the characteristics of districts, ensuring more a more equitable model

Fifth, and lastly, Colorado Succeeds continues to support the state’s usage of a rigorous assessment that informs and enables student growth, comparability, and accountability. Information from assessments ensures that students and families have access to transparent and understandable information that informs their choices. La Veta High School, the 2019 Succeeds Prize winner for Transformational Impact in a High School, developed the Student-Centered Accountability Program (S-CAP), which is an accountability system that focuses on the success of well-rounded students using a system for continuous improvement. We are dedicated to ensuring that the state protects the accountability system while also allowing districts to innovate and determine new, supplemental measures that demonstrate student success.

Our robust policy agenda has one overarching goal: ensure all Colorado students have access to high quality education that prepares them for success. By supporting each of these policy positions listed, we believe that Colorado will take meaningful steps toward this goal. Click here to see how you can get more involved.


Vice President of Government Affairs
Colorado Succeeds