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The Highs and Lows of the 2022 Legislative Session

The Highs and Lows of the 2022 Legislative Session

It’s May and that means two things: the school year is winding down and the Colorado Legislative Session has reached its conclusion. This was the first full, in-person Legislative Session since 2019.

This was a challenging legislative session in many ways, but we are proud of the collective work of the over 39,000 members of the CEA who helped us to victory on several important pieces of legislation and helped us defeat other harmful bills. Overall, in this legislative session, we were able to make significant advances for students, educators and public education.

Our Legislative Priorities heading into session were focused on the following:

  • Collective Bargaining
  • Funding
  • PERA
  • Accountability Bridge

For more on our pre-legislative session priorities, please visit our State of Education report, which was published in December 2021.

Here is a summary of the bills that the Colorado Education Association were involved with in the 2022 Legislative Session:

House Bill (HB) 22-1029, Compensatory Direct Distribution to Public Employees’ Retirement Association. CEA supported this bill, sponsored by Reps. Shannon Bird, Shane Sandridge, Sens. Chris Kolker and Kevin Priola, because it would recommit the state’s 2020 missed payment into the PERA system of $225 million. Additionally, the legislature is adding an additional $155 million as a pre-payment.

HB22-1066, Public Education Curriculum and Professional Development. CEA helped defeat this bill, sponsored by Rep. Tim Geitner, which was a draconian solution in search of a problem — educators and schools are already incredibly transparent about their curriculum. This bill would have put burdensome requirements on already overworked and exhausted educators. CEA was able to defeat this policy at the state legislature and from getting on the ballot.

HB22-1069, Parent Authority to Request Public School Reforms. Another bill CEA helped defeat, sponsored by Rep. Rod Bockenfeld and Sen. Kevin Priola, was part of a nationwide campaign labeled as “parent’s rights”. Instead, they are, in essence, tactics that serve to undermine and dismantle public education and further sow distrust of educators and school leaders, at the expense of what best serves our students.

HB22-1106, Concealed Handguns on School Grounds. The annual gun bill, introduced every session, was defeated by a reasonable coalition of stakeholders who know that the answer to ending gun violence in schools is not the addition of more guns in schools. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Patrick Neville, was defeated in the House Committee on State, Civic, Military, & Veterans Affairs.

HB22-1203, Income Tax Credits for Nonpublic Education. This is one of many voucher bills CEA defeated this session. While the bills took different approaches, they were all an effort to privatize public education. And while it may prove useful to some students, these bills failed to provide a solution for all of the 900,000 students that are part of our public education system. In short, it is another scheme to take from the many and give to the few. This bill was sponsored by Rep. Ron Hanks and was soundly defeated in the House Education committee.

HB22-1206, Prohibit Discriminatory Practices in Schools. This is another bill, sponsored by Rep. Dave Williams, that was defeated and is part of a nationwide campaign to distract from the very real issues our schools continue to face. These bills do nothing to address the very real problems that need to be addressed to support our students and our educators. This bill is about politics. It is an attempt by certain members of this legislative body to rewrite our shared history in a way that isn’t an honest and complete reflection of events that have shaped our nation and our state.

HB22-1207, Choice in Low-Performing School Districts. This is another voucher bill, sponsored by Rep. Dan Woog, that was defeated in the House Education committee.

HB22-1236, Parent’s Bill of Rights. This is another bill from the “parents’ rights” movement, sponsored by Rep. Tonya Van Beber, that was defeated in the House Committee on Health & Insurance.

HB22-1329, the Long Bill. The School Finance Act, HB22-1390 sets a statewide base per pupil for 2022-23 at $7,478, an increase by $252, which accounts for 3.5% inflation. It sets total program funding for 2022-23 to be no less than $8.4B. This is after the current Budget Stabilization factor impact, which is $321M after the buydown of $182M this year. In addition to a significant buy down of the BS Factor, CEA demanded a clean School Finance Act and was successfully able to push back against the inclusion of harmful and unrelated policies in the bill.

Senate Bill (SB) 22-039, Funding for Educational Opportunities. This is another voucher bill, sponsored by Sens. Paul Lundeen and Barbara Kirkmeyer, that was soundly defeated by CEA in the Senate Education Committee.

SB22-069, Learning Disruption Effect on Teacher Evaluation. Sponsored by Sen. Tammy Story, Reps. Barbara McLachlan and Meg Froelich, this bill will provide educators a two year grace period against high stakes testing being used against their evaluations and ensure that educators are not held accountable for poor academic growth measures resulting from the pandemic emergency. Disruptions to learning during the pandemic did and will continue to have an impact on student performance and educators should not be held responsible for circumstances entirely outside of their control.

SB22-070, Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade Licensed Personnel Performance Evaluations. This bill, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Bridges and Reps. Barbara McLachlan and Julie McCluskie, is the result of the Governor’s 2019 stakeholder process and represents a compromise reform. While it does not go as far as CEA and many members would like, this bill does reduce the percentage of an educator’s evaluation that can be based off of student growth measures from 50% to 30%, as well as provides modified evaluation rubrics and additional resources for districts, among other things. CEA worked hard with the Governor’s Office and the sponsors to add additional beneficial provisions including an educator’s ability to request a different evaluator and consideration for the chronic absenteeism of their students. While there is more to be done in this space, SB22-70 represents a good step forward and will provide some immediate relief to CEA members.

SB22-071, Learning Pods for Home-School Programs. This is another “parents’ rights” bill, sponsored by Sen. Rob Woodward, that was soundly defeated in the Senate Education Committee.

SB22-137, Transition Back to Standard K-12 Accountability. Sponsored by Sens. Rachel Zenzinger and Don Coram and Reps. Barbara McLachlan and Mary Young, this bill would make adjustments to the school accountability system to make sure hundreds of schools aren’t unfairly placed on the accountability clock due to insufficient data. SB 22-137 passed earlier in the session and was signed by the Governor on April 13, 2022.

SB22-171, Privacy Protections for Educators. Educators have increasingly been on the receiving end of bitter political vitriol that has become common across the state and nation. Sponsored by Sens. Jeff Bridges and Kevin Priola and Reps. Barbara McLachlan and Cathy Kipp, this bill will protect educators from doxing by members of the public. It will also prohibit school districts from releasing the dates of sick leave taken by educators to address situations like what happened in Douglas County.

SB22-230, Collective Bargaining for Counties. We are disappointed that we will not see a collective bargaining bill that provides protected rights to educators across Colorado. However, we can also say that we are proud that we stood strong against settling for just anything, and we held strong to the principles put forward by the CEA Board of Directors. We ensured that nothing would move forward that would diminish the current rights of public school educators. From the beginning, we knew that this would be a heavy lift and that passing a broad collective bargaining bill could be something that would take more than one legislative session. We remain committed to continuing to work on educating and advocating to the Governor, legislative leaders and legislators about the need for a uniform statewide collective bargaining law until a collective bargaining law exists for all educators. This narrowed bill, sponsored by Sens. Steve Fenberg and Dominick Moreno and Rep. Daneya Esgar passed both chambers and headed to the Governor’s desk for signature.

SJR22-011, Parents’ Right to be Involved in Child’s Education. This is another “parents’ rights” bill, sponsored by Sen. Bob Gardner and Rep. Tonya Van Beber, that was defeated in the Senate Committee on State, Veterans, & Military Affairs.

This session truly was a mix of highs and lows and we didn’t get everything we wanted. We did, however, make life better for Colorado students, their families and educators all across the state.

Let’s take a breather, regroup and gear up for the midterm elections so we can help elect pro-public education candidates in the fall who will stand with us as we continue to advocate for the schools that all students and educators deserve.

CEA Media Release: Solid Victories and Missed Opportunities Highlight the 2022 Legislative Session

CONTACT
Frank Valdez
Colorado Education Association
fvaldez@coloradoea.org
(720) 372-8888 Cell

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 12, 2022

Solid Victories and Missed Opportunities Highlight the 2022 Legislative Session
CEA now turns attention to 2022 midterm elections

DENVER – With the 2022 Legislative Session in the books, the 39,000 members of the Colorado Education Association played a key role in advancing consequential legislation that improved the lives of Colorado students and educators this session. The session fell a bit short in some areas but overall, public education in Colorado is better today than it was in 2021.

“We had a bold agenda when we published our State of Education report in December and we definitely improved the lives of Colorado students and educators as we end this session,” said Amie Baca-Oehlert, high school counselor and president of the Colorado Education Association. “Did we achieve everything we set out to achieve? No but we made significant progress with evaluations, educator privacy, shoring up PERA and significantly buying down the Budget Stabilization Factor. We made significant strides and every one of our 39,000 members made a difference.”

Among key victories by the union this year was a significant buy down of the Budget Stabilization Factor to its lowest level in well over a decade to $321 million, with the real promise of buying it completely down by 2024. This was one of CEA’s main priorities heading into the session as a graduating senior in 2022 had never seen a fully funded public education system.

Other key victories include House Bill (HB) 22-1029, Compensatory Direct Distribution to Public Employees’ Retirement Association, which recommit the state’s 2020 missed payment into the PERA system of $225 million and an additional $155 million as a pre-payment. SB22-069, Learning Disruption Effect on Teacher Evaluation, which provides educators a two-year grace period against high stakes testing being used against their evaluations and ensures that educators are not held accountable for poor academic growth measures resulting from the pandemic emergency. SB22-070, Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade Licensed Personnel Performance Evaluations, is the result of the Governor’s 2019 stakeholder process and represents a compromise reform. While it does not go as far as CEA and many members would like, this bill does reduce the percentage of an educator’s evaluation that can be based off of student growth measures from 50% to 30%, as well as provides modified evaluation rubrics and additional resources for districts, among other things. SB 22-137, Transition Back to Standard K-12 Accountability makes adjustments to the school accountability system to make sure hundreds of schools aren’t unfairly placed on the accountability clock due to insufficient data. Finally, SB22-171, Privacy Protections for Educators protects educators from doxing, the release of educators’ personal, identifiable information on the internet, by members of the public. It will also prohibit school districts from releasing the dates of sick leave taken by educators to address situations like what happened in Douglas County.

“We’re disappointed that K-12 wasn’t a part of this year’s attempt at a statewide collective bargaining bill but we will continue to make that a priority for all of Colorado’s public workers,” said Baca-Oehlert. “We can, however, hold our heads high in knowing that we significantly improved the lives of Colorado students, their families and educators in 2022. We’d like to carry this momentum into the fall election cycle where we will work tirelessly to elect pro-public education candidates to help us make more of an impact in the 2023 Legislative Session.”

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About the Colorado Education Association
The Colorado Education Association is the voice of 39,000 educators, working together in a strong union to ensure all students get the exceptional public schools they deserve, in every neighborhood across the state. As Colorado’s largest labor union, CEA works collectively with all education stakeholders to ensure Colorado’s standing as an excellent state in which to learn, live, work, and raise a family.

SD14CTA Media Release: Adams 14 Educators Shocked by State Board Vote

CONTACT
Jason Malmberg
720-261-0273
jasonmalmberg7@gmail.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 11, 2022

Adams 14 Educators Shocked by State Board Vote
Committed to District-TNTP management consultants partnership

COMMERCE CITY, COLO. – In a surprise move, yesterday the State Board of Education voted to start a reorganization process for Adams 14, just a month after voting for the district to co-govern with a partial manager. The audience at yesterday’s vote was sparse, while so many Adams County residents attended the April meeting, spectators spilled into the overflow room.

“Educators, students and families are stunned that the State Board of Education voted to reverse last month’s decision to support the innovation and partial management plans put forth by the district and supported by the community,” said Jason Malmberg, a music teacher and School District 14 Classroom Teachers Association president. “Even though we’re furious that the State Board continues to jerk us all around, we want to be clear that teachers are committed to not just finishing the school year strong for our students, but also collaborating with Dr. Loria, the district, our community and others to advance the future of Adams 14 schools.

The Adams 14 district has been in constant turmoil since the State Board of Education forced a private for-profit management partner on them, an expensive and failed experiment that left staff, students, parents and community members demoralized and frustrated. Last month’s district proposal for co-partner management status outlined that district staff, educators, students and families would come together to build community schools to provide the wraparound services that are proven to lead to greater student well-being and academic growth.

“The Commerce City community has communicated loud and clear that they want a collaborative school design process that prioritizes the needs and strengths of the community, and we all feel confused and heartbroken about the Board’s vote,” said Lacey Mueller-Taschdjian, a middle school math teacher in the district. “No matter what we look like, where we live or how much we have in our wallets, we all want exceptional public schools that inspire imagination, cultivate critical thinking and encourage collaboration to ensure our children can live fulfilling lives – and the innovation plan for Central Elementary and a community school to open in the fall will help get us there.”

The Adams 14 community has a strong sense of community pride, with multiple generations in families having attended from its local schools. Many students will continue this legacy when they graduate at commencement on May 21, 2022.

“I grew up in a working class minority family, just like the kids in my class. These students are at risk of losing the opportunity to earn a seal of biliteracy, a valuable certification that attests to their language abilities,” said Derene Armelin, an Adams 14 elementary school teacher and Adams 14 graduate. “It looks to me like the State Board of Education is unfairly discriminating against this community based on their income and skin color since I have never seen them challenge and disrespect a white, male superintendent like they have Dr. Loria.”

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The School District 14 Classroom Teachers Association represents Adams 14 educators and is a local of the Colorado Education Association, Colorado’s largest labor union. The Colorado Education Association is the voice of 39,000 educators, working together to ensure all students get the exceptional public schools they deserve, in every neighborhood across the state.

Colorado Education Association Statement on Introduction of Collective Bargaining Bill

CONTACT
Frank Valdez
Colorado Education Association
fvaldez@coloradoea.org
(720) 372-8888 Cell

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 25, 2022

Colorado Education Association Statement on Introduction of Collective Bargaining Bill
CEA will continue to fight for a bill that benefits all public workers in Colorado

DENVER, CO – Today, the Colorado state Legislature introduced a collective bargaining bill, Senate Bill 22-230, Collective Bargaining for Counties. The following statement can be attributed to Amie Baca-Oehlert , high school counselor and president of the Colorado Education Association:

“No matter what school we work in — whether it’s in a small town, the suburbs, or in a large city, as educators across Colorado, we all want our students to thrive and succeed. Our students do better when their educators can collectively bargain with their districts.

“We support the ability of ALL public workers across the state of Colorado to be able to form unions, be recognized and collectively bargain. We are disappointed to not see a bill that covers all Colorado public workers and that doesn’t contain strong provisions like strike rights and bargaining unit formation decided by workers. You can look no further than the Denver metro area New America Schools (NAS) as evidence why Colorado public workers need collective bargaining rights. After months of stalling, the NAS board voted last week to decline recognition of the union in a school system where 77% of the teachers voted to unionize while nearly 50% of the staff have quit in the past 6 months. Collective bargaining rights for all shouldn’t be a debate. While providing rights to some public workers, such as county workers, is a step forward, we still have a long way to go to ensure that all public workers have basic fundamental rights to form a union and collectively bargain.

“The 39,000 members of the Colorado Education Association stand with all public service workers in Colorado and will continue to work toward securing the fundamental rights of all workers to have a legitimate voice in their workplace.”

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About the Colorado Education Association
The Colorado Education Association is the voice of 39,000 educators, working together in a strong union to ensure all students get the exceptional public schools they deserve, in every neighborhood across the state. As Colorado’s largest labor union, CEA works collectively with all education stakeholders to ensure Colorado’s standing as an excellent state in which to learn, live, work, and raise a family.

SD14CTA & CEA Statement: Adams 14 & CEA Educators Cautiously Optimistic After State Board Vote

CONTACT
Jason Malmberg
720-261-0273

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 14, 2022

Adams 14 & CEA Educators Cautiously Optimistic After State Board Vote
District will move to co-govern with management consultants

The following statement can be attributed to Jason Malmberg, middle school music teacher and president of the SD14 Classroom Teachers Association:

“Today, educators, students and families are breathing a little easier after the State Board of Education voted to grant Adams 14 time to produce its innovation and partial management plans for the district, Central Elementary and Adams City High School. There will be no school closures which is a major victory for the students, families, educators and community.

“Our district has been in constant turmoil since the State Board of Education forced a private for-profit management partner on us, a failed experiment that left us all demoralized and frustrated. We’re cautiously optimistic that under co-partner management status, district staff, educators, students and families can come together to build the community schools we believe will provide the wraparound services that lead to greater student health and academic growth.

“District 14 educators are eager to collaborate with Dr. Loria, the district, and a new partner to provide the academic, social, emotional and other support our students need to learn, thrive and make their dreams come true. We are encouraged to develop a plan that will be envisioned with authentic community input as we heard loud and clear from community members that they want a collaborative school design process that prioritizes the needs and strengths of the community.

“With a strong sense of community pride, our students will continue the Adams 14 legacy when many of them will become third and fourth generation graduates of their public schools in May and in years to come.”

The following statement can be attributed to Amie Baca Oehlert, high school counselor and president of the Colorado Education Association, the voice of 39,000 educators:

“No matter what we look like, where we live or how much we have in our wallets, we all want exceptional public schools that inspire imagination, cultivate critical thinking and encourage collaboration to ensure our children can live fulfilling lives – that includes the hardworking families and educators in Commerce City. The Colorado Education Association will continue to support the students, families, and educators of Adams 14 by supporting our community school model and its expansion throughout Adams 14.”

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