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
- 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.