education

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Students are heading back to school, but the road to graduation for this year's incoming crop of seniors varies by high school. The reason? Unlike other states, Colorado does not have a set requirement for what it takes to receive a diploma.

Creating a standard is an ongoing debate and one that state lawmakers tried to answer in 2007 and 2008 when they approved legislation requiring a minimum statewide requirement.
 

Newscast for Tuesday, 8/18/15, 5:32 PM:

  • Several school superintendents came to the state capitol on Monday to talk about the challenges of preparing young children for kindergarten.
     
  • Colorado lawmakers are starting to quantify the state's racial profiling by law enforcement in the aftermath of high-profile clashes between the public and officers around the nation.
     
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A measure to eliminate immunity for public schools for shootings, deaths, sexual assaults and other series injuries that happen to students on school grounds was signed into law on Wednesday. Previously schools had absolute immunity.

The law would cap damages at $900,000 for multiple injuries per incident. Governor Hickenlooper says the state has experienced its fair share of tragedies in schools and hopes the law will make students safer.

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A measure to eliminate immunity for public schools for school shootings, death, sexual assaults and other series injuries that happen to students on school grounds cleared the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday. It passed on a vote of 10-3.

Currently public schools are not liable. Legislative leaders in both parties are sponsoring the change, spurred in part by the death of Claire Davis in 2013. Davis attended Arapahoe High School in Littleton when a fellow student shot and killed her before turning the gun on himself.

Two former governors, Roy Romer and Bill Owens, joined current Gov. John Hickenlooper at the state capitol to urge lawmakers not to go too far in reducing the numbers of standardized assessments school children take. This comes as legislators are debating several bills to lower the number of exams.

Republican Bill Owens said it's important to have standards and test against those standards to see if students are learning what they should, and to evaluate schools and teachers.

"Our friends from the left and the right for differing reasons, don't want to test, don't want to measure, don't want to have accountability," said Owens. "This is stunning to me."

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UPDATE 04/15/15 - The House passed the bill; it's expected to fail in the Senate.

ORIGINAL POST 04/14/15: Democrats in the House unexpectedly delayed a vote on an American Indian mascot bill after they realized Republicans had enough votes to kill it.  

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A bi-partisan measure aimed at reducing the number of tests Colorado public school students take is in limbo at the state legislature. The sponsors delayed the first hearing and don’t know when it will be rescheduled – if at all.

On average, students in Colorado classrooms take more than two-dozen assessments before they graduate, and in some cases up to four times a year according to the Colorado Education Association.  Critics say it actually means less time for overall learning.

D. Utterback

Governor John Hickenlooper recently sat down with reporters to discuss how the legislative session is going so far. Lawmakers are just past the midpoint of the four-month long session.

Which bills are being delayed?

How is the Governor handling split legislative control?

Here are a couple highlights from the conversation:

Kristen Wyatt, Associated Press

Martha Perez-Sanz / KRCC (file photo)

Students in La Junta plan to visit Bent’s Old Fort Wednesday in order to virtually recreate its environment. KRCC’s Dana Cronin reports.
 

Students from Otero Junior College and La Junta High School are expected to take measurements of the site in order to recreate it on the popular computer game Minecraft.

Bente Birkeland / RMCR

It has been more than a year since recreational marijuana stores opened in Colorado and retail sales began. Schools are grappling with the best way to discusses marijuana in the classroom amidst changing attitudes. 

While schools aren’t required to separate out marijuana incidents from other illicit drugs such as cocaine, anecdotal evidence compiled by Rocky Mountain PBS I-News suggests more students are using marijuana.

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Even after a full year of being able to purchase recreational marijuana – questions still remain for the state of Colorado. Is its use dangerous, should there be tighter labeling on pot edibles – and is its easy access impacting middle and high school students? Recent data compiled by the Department of Education and Rocky Mountain PBS I-News show incidents of student drug use last year hitting a ten-year high, but state officials don’t have a clear picture if the two are related.

While much of the attention the 2014 election season has been focused on Colorado's Senate and gubernatorial races, voters will also be deciding the fates of four statewide ballot questions. One of those questions seeks to expand gambling at racetracks to help fund K-12 education.

If approved, Amendment 68 would allow horse race tracks in Arapahoe, Mesa and Pueblo counties to offer slot machines, roulette, craps, and card games such as blackjack and poker. Arapahoe Park in Aurora is at the center of the campaign.

Colorado State University-Pueblo is reporting increased freshmen enrollment. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.
 

CSU-Pueblo saw a 15% increase in freshman enrollment with an expected decline in continuing student enrollment. The increase included a higher ethnic diversity of students, especially Hispanic. The percentage of out of state and international students also rose.

University officials credit the increase to several new facilities and beefed-up recruitment strategies and outreach, and they expect this trend to continue.

Sam Fuqua

When it comes to water, Colorado’s kids can expect to face a challenging future;  a growing population and increasing demand may mean difficult trade-offs.  That’s one reason educators and policy-makers say it’s critical to teach young people about water management.

On a breezy spring morning in south Denver, a line of about 30 teenagers snakes down a hill at Overland Pond, a little urban park next to the South Platte River.  The kids are passing golf balls to each other really fast, and dropping many of them. 

D. Utterback

Lawmakers at the state capitol have some big-ticket items to iron out before the session wraps up in May.

As part of our Capitol Conversation series, Bente Birkeland talks to statehouse reporters about some of those measures.

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A bill aimed at creating new penalties for cyber bullying failed in the senate judiciary committee on Wednesday. The sponsor reluctantly asked lawmakers to postpone the bill, saying it needs more study. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.
 

Lawmakers have scaled back several provisions in a major education bill after hearing the concerns from school districts across the state. The Student Success Act initially passed the House on Wednesday with the new changes. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

The blue corduroy jacket worn by high school students in FFA, formerly the Future Farmers of America, is an icon of rural life. To the average city dweller the jacket is a vestige of dwindling, isolated farm culture, as fewer and fewer young people grow up on farms. The numbers tell a different story however. In spite of that demographic shift, a record number of kids are donning blue jackets this year.
 

The Air Force Academy is planning a series of cuts as part of the Pentagon’s 2015 budget proposal. KRCC's Eliza Densmore reports.

The cuts would eliminate three percent of the Academy’s workforce and 10 academic majors at the school. Degrees in biochemistry, environmental engineering, and philosophy are among the proposed cuts.

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Dozens of school superintendents told lawmakers on the house education committee Monday that Colorado needs to do more to restore K through 12 budget cuts. After a 2013 ballot initiative failed to pass and solve the state’s funding challenges, the problem now falls into the laps of lawmakers. A bi-partisan bill to begin pumping more money into schools got its first hearing at the capitol.
 

D. Utterback

Lawmakers are rolling out a new bi-partisan funding plan for K through 12 schools, but many in the education community are not board with it. As part of our capitol conversation series, Bente Birkeland talks to statehouse reporters about the education agenda this session, and some unusual alliances it's creating.
 

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School superintendents in Colorado are concerned about the state’s legislative agenda this session. Nearly every school district in the state wrote a letter asking lawmakers to focus exclusively on restoring budget cuts to schools and drop bills they’re calling unnecessary. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.

Audit: School Meal Program Missed Funding Opportunities

Jan 28, 2014

Colorado’s School Meal Program missed out on federal money and grants that could have been used to help feed students in need, according to an audit released Tuesday. KRCC's Elaina Formby reports.
 

The Office of School Nutrition, or OSN, runs the School Meal Program in Colorado and is responsible for monitoring districts’ adherence to state and federal terms.

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School safety experts briefed lawmakers on the joint education committee yesterday. They asked the state to focus on preventing school violence rather than simply trying to stop it. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.
 

Colorado Springs' SD11 Approves Sale of Building

Nov 15, 2013
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Colorado Springs’ District-11 School Board approved the sale of Abraham Lincoln Elementary to a local developer in a unanimous vote Wednesday.  KRCC’s Kate Dunn has more.
 

Lincoln Elementary shut its doors in May after the district decided to consolidate several underused schools.           

School Board Director Al Loma says local developer Bob Elliott’s proposal would re-purpose the school building and turn it into a mixed-use space for businesses, senior living, and eateries.

Colorado voters support taxing recreational marijuana, but gave a crushing defeat to a proposed billion-dollar tax increase for public schools. In this special election edition of Capitol Conversation, Bente Birkeland analyzes the long- term impacts of the election results with political reporters.

Colorado voters gave a mixed reaction at the ballot box on a pair of statewide tax increases during yesterday’s election. As Bente Birkeland reports, voters didn’t want to tax themselves to pay for education, but were overwhelmingly willing to tax recreational marijuana to help rebuild schools.

Supporters of Amendment 66 waged a vigorous get out the vote campaign flush with outside money from the likes of Bill Gates and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

It wasn’t enough to convince voters to say “yes.”

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs was ranked 50th among nationwide public and private universities for the number of women enrolled in or graduated from STEM, or science, technology, engineering, and math, programs. KRCC’s Martha Perez-Sanz has more.

With just over three weeks until the election, the campaign asking Colorado voters to approve a $1 billion tax increase to pay for improvements to public schools are planning what they call a robust door-to-door operation.

Palmer High School Student, Graham Gale, came to us with an idea to combine two of her interests - local history & public media - for a school project. Graham visited the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum and found the scrapbook of a young woman who lived in the rather different Colorado Springs of 100 years ago.

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