With over 700 bills and resolutions introduced, the 73rd General Assembly adjourned on Wednesday, May 11 after a 120-day legislative session. Colorado Succeeds is thankful for the courageous leadership of legislators, the Governor’s office, state agency leaders, business leaders, educators, students, families, and advocacy partners.
We are particularly grateful to our bipartisan legislative champions, including Sens. James Coleman (D), Rachel Zenzinger (D), Jeff Bridges (D), Bob Gardner (R), Bob Rankin (R), Paul Lundeen (R), Steve Fenberg (D), Janet Buckner (D) and Reps. Julie McCluskie (D), Mary Young (D), Colin Larson (R), Barbara McLachlan (D), Emily Sirota (D), and Speaker Alec Garnett (D).
- High-quality preschool as a 3- or 4-year-old;
- High-performing school in K-12; and
- Earn a postsecondary credential aligned with their interests and market demands.
We saw significant legislation advance in the 2022 legislative session that moves Colorado closer to all three goals.
Early Childhood Education
Colorado Succeeds was pleased to be heavily involved in legislation that creates the Department of Early Childhood and universal preschool (HB)22-1295). The bill was already signed into law by Governor Polis in late April, ensuring families can enroll by the fall of 2023.
Specifically, Colorado Succeeds’ business principles and values were clearly reflected in the final legislation:
- Mixed Delivery & Family Choice – The new universal preschool program will support preschool providers in all settings – traditional schools, charter schools, community-based child care centers and in-home providers – empowering families to choose the preschool provider that best fits the child’s and family’s needs.
- Efficient & Customer-Focused – The new department will align and streamline family engagement with early childhood services in several ways, including the creation of a single unified application.
- Data Informed Decision Making – Legislation requires data sharing agreements between state agencies and new data collection requirements to inform program operations, which enables greater transparency, timely program evaluation, and continuous improvement activities.
In the pursuit of all students attending a high-performing school that meets their learning needs and aspirations, Colorado Succeeds specifically supported legislation that:
- Ensures a robust marketplace of high-quality public-school options that include charter schools and innovation schools, including $17 million for charter schools authorized by the state, and authorizing a fair process for resolving disputes between school districts and innovation zones (SB22-197).
- Updates educator evaluation laws so that more students have effective educators in the classroom and educators are treated as professionals, receive constructive feedback, and provided with opportunities for continuous improvement (SB22-070).
- Ensures school accountability gets back on track, and data is available to the community to inform where parents send their kids to school and to help target state funds and resources to where help is needed the most (SB22-137).
- Increases education funding to record levels to ensure all Colorado students receive the resources they need to succeed and forces the state to have a much-needed conversation about how to distribute funding in a more equitable manner (HB22-1202) based on student need.
- Holds districts accountable when they continually fail to meet state standards. Colorado Succeeds elevated the business voice and urged the State Board of Education to pursue extraordinary changes for the Adams 14 School District.
- Bridges the transportation gap by providing additional dollars for students to be transported to innovation campuses, career and technical schools, and career-connected learning opportunities. Although this policy failed (HB22-1395), it proved to be a concept that received bipartisan support. Colorado Succeeds is hopeful that this policy will be re-elevated in the 2023 Legislative Session.
Postsecondary & Workforce Development
Significant legislation moved this legislative session to address the challenges facing our state’s education-to-workforce system. Through one-time federal stimulus funds, a series of legislative victories will help to seed and scale effective strategies to train our future workforce.
Colorado Succeeds, along with 40 other organizations, strongly supported the Student Success & Workforce Revitalization Taskforce’s report recommendations and actively lobbied for the ideas to be translated into actionable legislation. We are proud that stimulus dollars and other state resources were prioritized towards five business priorities, including:
- $90 million directed in regional grants that will bring industry and higher education together (HB22-1350)
- $3 million for employer incentives to initiate and scale high quality work-based learning opportunities for adults and youth (SB22-140)
- $3 million for the creation of a postsecondary student success data system, including workforce success measures, like employment outcomes and earnings (HB22-1349)
- $1 million invested in the creation of postsecondary pathways in high-demand, high-wage fields to be informed by industry (SB22-192)
- Creation of a taskforce to study how more high school students can access postsecondary credit and high-quality work-based learning (HB22-1215)
While this legislative session ends on a high note for Colorado leaners, more work is needed.
Stay tuned to Colorado Succeeds as we actively monitor the legislation that has passed and hold the state accountable for the best outcomes possible for Colorado’s learners.
Colorado Succeeds would like to express a special thank you to our community of champions for advocating on behalf of our shared policy agenda including: Ousman Ba, African Leadership Group; Aya Benbelkacem, Colorado Youth Congress; Debbie Brown, Colorado Business Roundtable; Becky Dancer, Clear Creek School District; Nathan Fall, Greeley-Evans School District; Loren Furman, Colorado Chamber of Commerce; Andrew Huber, STRIVE Prep Schools; Bret McClendon, Elizabeth School District; Jessica Morrison, Southwest Colorado Education Collaborative; Jamie Pearson, Centura; Frank Reeves, East Grand School District; Jonathan Steenland, Force Now; and Bill Summers, Cañon City School District.