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State Board of Education candidates speak to takeaways from schools’ COVID adaptations

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Mayling Simpson of Steamboat Springs, left, and Joyce Rankin of Carbondale.

Challenges facing schools during the COVID-19 crisis are atop the minds of the two candidates seeking to represent Colorado’s Third Congressional District on the state Board of Education.

The Nov. 3 ballot features a race between incumbent Republican and former longtime teacher and school administrator Joyce Rankin of Carbondale, and Mayling Simpson of Steamboat Springs, also a former teacher who spent 30 years in public health.

Rankin (wife of state Sen. Bob Rankin who also is up for reelection this cycle) was first elected to the state Board of Education in 2016. She says the public health crisis has presented an opportunity for K-12 education to evolve.

“I know COVID has disrupted a lot of people in their lives … some students home and (learning) online, some are in person,” Rankin acknowledged during the Oct. 15 Issues & Answers Forum, co-sponsored by the Post Independent.

Rather than focusing on the disruptions, though, Rankin said she’s looking at how the current situation might change the way students learn and teachers teach in the future.

“I believe this has brought to the forefront the fact that we need more pathways for students to learn,” she said.

Especially for high school students, it’s possible to not only complete their regular schoolwork online but to then take additional college-level courses, Rankin noted.

However, to do it effectively will necessitate more training for teachers to deliver education via technology, Rankin added.

Simpson offered that, in talking to teachers across the state, “A lot of them feel that they’re not being heard.” That’s especially true with some of the challenges brought on by the pandemic and the mix of online teaching and in-person classes with strict public health precautions in place.

“I talked to one teacher who has been teaching for 30 years this year, and he said it feels like he’s a first-year teacher again,” Simpson said. “A lot of teachers are overworked and frustrated, and they would really just like to have their voices heard at the state level.”

With 30 years in the public health realm, Simpson said she can bring “new skills and new perspectives” to the state education board as Colorado schools adjust to a new way of doing things.

During the Issues and Answers Forum, as well as the Club 20 Debates in September, Rankin and Simpson addressed a number of topics, including reading and math scores, U.S. history curriculum, teacher training, teacher pay and more.

View both sessions in their entirety, below


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