GOP seeks statewide graduation standards | AspenTimes.com

GOP seeks statewide graduation standards

Steven K. Paulson
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” Republican state lawmakers called for comprehensive statewide graduation standards on Tuesday that would include up to four years of math and English, three years of science and social studies and two years of a foreign language.

And if students fail the 10th grade statewide achievement test, they would be required to pass a high school proficiency exam before they could get a diploma.

“These are creative solutions that are grounded in performance and accountability and don’t ask Colorado taxpayers for another tax hike,” said House Minority Leader Mike May of Parker.

Democrats, who have a 40-25 majority in the House and a 20-15 majority in the Senate, said they will outline their public education agenda later this month.

House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver, said the Democratic plan would include early childhood education and competitive salaries for teachers.

Another component, being developed by state Treasurer Cary Kennedy, could provide state matching funds to local school districts to fix school buildings, Romanoff said. That proposal would address reports that many school buildings across the state have never received mandated state fire inspections.

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Small school districts, especially in rural areas, are limited in the amount of money they can raise by bond issues, and Democrats are trying to come up with a way to fix the problem, Romanoff said.

“All the reforms in the world won’t do any good if the roof is caving in,” he said.

Gov. Bill Ritter has set up a panel to study education reform from preschool through college, but Romanoff said that doesn’t mean lawmakers have to wait for their recommendations.

“I think there is an appetite for change and people don’t want to wait,” he said.

Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, said he plans to reintroduce a bill killed last year that would require students to prove English proficiency.

“Some people say that it’s not fair to withhold a diploma from a student who hasn’t mastered English, who can’t function in society. The truth is, it’s not fair to give a student a phony piece of paper that says they’ve received an adequate education when they have not,” Mitchell said.

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