Week 10: Charter School Controversy
What's the Hap at the Cap? Legislative updates from March 2 - March 16
By Susan Baughman, Policy and Research Intern
March 16th, 2017
This week marks the second half of the 71st General Colorado Legislative Assembly, which will adjourn May 10th. It’s been a busy couple of weeks, with plenty of big legislative debates still to come.
House Bill 1122, “Gender Identification on Birth Certificates,” made movement this week as it was heard by the House Judiciary Committee and passed the third reading in the House on March 15th. This bill would make changing one’s gender on a birth certificate a little less burdensome. Although this bill has gained traction in the House, it’s likely that it will face substantial pushback in the Republican-controlled Senate; after all, this is the fourth year Democrats will be attempting to pass this bill. We will continue to track this important bill as it goes to the Senate.
Although introduced on January 31st, the second half of the session starts off with a highly controversial bill addressing charter school funding. Senate Bill 17-061, “Additional Funding Charter School Operating Costs,” passed the Senate on Tuesday. The bill is sponsored by Senator Angela Williams [D- Denver], Senator Owen Hill [R- El Paso], Representative Paul Rosenthal [D- Arapahoe, Denver], and Representative Lang Sias [R- Jefferson]. If passed in the House, this will require school districts to increase funding for charter schools. Currently, school boards are required to consider the charter schools in their district but do not necessarily have to give them any tax district revenue.
With the new Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos, being a known and controversial charter school proponent, the public vs. charter school debate is at a peak. There are various arguments for and against charter schools. Proponents of SB 17-061 argue that charter schools in Colorado do a better job of serving at-risk youth. Supporters also argue that charter schools give students and family choice, meaning more autonomy over their own education.
Opponents of charter schools claim that charter schools are a private control of public education and have little accountability and transparency. Many opponents argue that by taking tax money away from public schools, more problems are created within the public school system. Opponents also maintain that charter schools further segregate youth, and although they give at-risk youth opportunities, students of color often receive harsher disciplinary punishments compared to their white peers.
Above are just some of the compelling, yet complicated concerns each side presents. We will continue to track what the future legislative session holds for charter schools in Colorado. If you feel strongly about this bill, we encourage you to get involved and contact your representative today!
- House Bill 1156, “Prohibits Conversion Therapy Mental Health Providers,” passed in the House and was introduced in the Senate on March 10th. A hearing has been set for the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee for March 22nd.
- House Bill 1001, “Parental Involvement K-12 Education Act” passed the House and was heard by the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee on March 15th.
- House Bill 1127, “Exempt Feminine Hygiene Products From Sales Tax,” has no updates, as no hearing data has yet been set. This bill, which CYM will continue to track, would make menstrual products less financially burdensome.
- House Bill 1064, “Misuse of Electronic Images by a Juvenile,” the bill that criminalizes all sexting (both consensual and nonconsensual) has no updates and no hearings have been set.
Representative Lee’s Sexting Bill, has no new updates and a bill number has not yet been assigned. This bill will only criminalize nonconsensual sexting.
That is it for this week’s Hap at the Cap! We will be back on March 30th.