Our hope may be realized soon as SB 33 approaches the last step in legislative process

Posted March 5, 2013 by ceacapconn
Categories: ASSET legislation in Colorado, Colorado Legislature, Governor John Hickenlooper, Higher Education, higher education tuition, undocumented students

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In 2003, the drive began to get in-state Colorado university and college tuition for undocumented students. Beginning that year, State Rep. Val Vigil (D-Thornton) ran bills for three years, all unsuccessfully.

By then, Colorado was one of only five states in the entire country to make it illegal for higher education institutions to offer in-state tuition to students whose immigrant parents brought them to the U.S., often as small children.

Since 2006, legislators have tried to pass in-state or reduced tuition bills four more times. This year is the year. Senate Bill 33, nicknamed “ASSET,” is expected to pass the House of Representatives this Friday. The bill won second reading endorsement today after several hours of testimony on the House floor. (ASSET stands for Advancing Students for a Stronger Economy Tomorrow.)

Watching the House debate today were numerous students anxious for SB 33 to pass because the bill means, literally, their future. One young woman, a Westminster High School senior, is looking forward to her high school graduation this spring. She said, “This is a long time coming. So many came before me and fought to help make sure that I can afford to go to college next year. I thank everyone who helped over these past 10 years for their support. I couldn’t have dreamed of a better graduation present than ASSET passing.”

We anticipate SB 33 will be heard on its third reading final vote in the House this Friday, March 8. Several Republican lawmakers are expected to join their Democratic counterparts in supporting the bill. Once it has passed, it will go to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk for his signature.

The cost of attending college is the main obstacle facing undocumented students. While there is no federal law prohibiting the admission of undocumented immigrants to U.S. colleges and universities, financial limitations are enough to prevent students from applying and enrolling.

SB 33 will not only give many students the opportunity to go to college in Colorado at resident tuition rates, but it will raise millions of dollars each year in additional tuition revenue for our financially-strapped institutions of higher education. Thus, SB 33 is a way to build up Colorado’s educated workforce and grow our state’s economy.

Under Senate Bill 33, students who graduate from high school and have attended a Colorado school for at least three years will be eligible for the in-state tuition rate regardless of immigration status. Estimates by legislative researchers are that about 1,500 Colorado high school students without legal immigration status graduate each year and, of these, 500 are expected to go to college the first year the new law takes effect. Analysts predict that an additional 250 students will attend college each year after that if SB 33 becomes law.

The Higher Education Access Alliance (HEAA) has been pushing for SB 33 and the approval of resident tuition for undocumented students, along with affordable access to higher education for all Colorado students. CEA is a member of HEAA’s steering committee, represented by CEA Executive Director Tony Salazar. Joining CEA in HEAA’s cause are the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition; Latino Leadership Advocacy and Research Organization; Latin American Educational Foundation; Padres y Jovenes Unidos; Stand for Children; Together Colorado; SEIU Local 105; and Metropolitan State University of Denver.

 

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Across-the-board education cuts will happen Friday unless…

Posted February 27, 2013 by ceacapconn
Categories: Congress, K-12 Funding, Public Education, School Funding

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Across-the-board cuts in federal education funding and other “discretionary” spending are scheduled to take effect this Friday, March 1. Democrats, Republicans, business leaders, economists, and educators agree that the cuts are a terrible idea.

Monday’s Denver Post reported that as a result of the cuts to federal education funding, “Almost 4,000 fewer Colorado special education students would receive support; 700 Colorado kids would lose access to school-readiness programs; and more than 100 teachers funded by Title I money could lose their jobs.”

While we are bracing for this terrible impact to Colorado students and schools, we know these cuts and job losses will not happen overnight – however, we expect Congress to take action well before the end of this school year.

You can help by contacting Colorado’s Congressional delegation and ask our members of Congress to stop the across-the-board education cuts:

Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet

Representatives Diana DeGette (CD 1), Jared Polis (CD 2), Scott Tipton (CD 3), Cory Gardner (CD 4), Doug Lamborn (CD 5), Mike Coffman (CD 6), and Ed Perlmutter (CD 7)

You can also add your name to NEA’s Kids, Not Cuts petition, and then post it on your Facebook page and tweet it.

Details on the impact of across-the-board cuts in each state
Details on the impact of across-the-board cuts nationwide

Good news for undocumented students headed to college

Posted February 26, 2013 by ceacapconn
Categories: ASSET legislation in Colorado, Colorado Legislature, higher education tuition, Public school employees, Senate Bill 191, State Council for Teacher Effectiveness, Teacher Effectiveness, undocumented students

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The State Senate passed Senate Bill 33 yesterday. The bill, nicknamed ASSET, will allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates at Colorado colleges and universities if they meet several specific requirements as high school students.

All Democratic Senators voted for the bill along with three Republican Senators: Greg Brophy (Wray), Larry Crowder (Alamosa), and Owen Hill (Colorado Springs).

SB 33 now moves to the House where the House Education Committee will hear it tomorrow. CEA supports the bill and works in a broad coalition which is pushing the bill.

A second CEA-backed bill, HB 1220, won approval in the House Education Committee yesterday. The committee voted 10-2 to pass the bill which would clarify current law by ensuring that individual teacher and principal evaluations are confidential, not published, and available only to administrators and others in school districts who are authorized to see them.

HB 1220 would not limit the publication of aggregate data about evaluations, as long as no data was linked to an individual educator. The bill’s sponsor is Rep. Joe Salazar (D-Thornton). In addition to CEA’s support, the bill has support from the State Council for Educator Effectiveness, CASE, CASB, and the Quality Teacher Commission.

House Education Committee to hear private school tax credits bill

Posted February 15, 2013 by ceacapconn
Categories: Colorado Legislature, K-12 Funding, School Funding, School Vouchers, Taxes

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Next week the House Education Committee will hear testimony on HB 1176, a bill to establish a “private school tuition income tax credit.” The bill would allow a taxpayer to claim a credit on his income tax when he enrolls his child in a private or religious school. Scholarship benefactors would also be eligible for a tax credit for providing assistance to a child to attend a private or religious school.

The bill’s sponsors are Sen. Vicki Marble, Senate District 23 Republican (Ft. Collins), and Rep. Lori Saine, Republican in HD 63 (Dacono).

Under the bill, the amount of the tax credit for one child would be one-half of the prior year’s statewide per pupil school finance funding amount, e.g., $3,240 for tax year 2014.

CEA opposes private school tax credits and their companion measures, school vouchers. We do not believe that taxpayers’ money should be used to subsidize private or religious schools.

Senate Education Committee to hear ASSET bill, SB 33, on January 24

Posted January 22, 2013 by ceacapconn
Categories: ASSET legislation in Colorado, Colorado Legislature, Higher Education, higher education tuition, Public Education, undocumented students

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Senate Bill 33, Colorado ASSET, will ensure that all qualified Colorado high school graduates can better afford to go to college by giving them the opportunity to pay in-state tuition. As we have invested in these students during their K-12 years, we should continue our investment in them right through college.

And after college with degrees in hand, these young people are less likely to get caught in a cycle of poverty, are more likely to be productive citizens engaged in their communities – and more able to strengthen the economy by working.

Approving ASSET is one more step toward a better economy. That’s our message to the Senators on the Education Committee: Senators Evie Hudak, Michael Johnston, Rollie Heath, Andy Kerr, Nancy Todd, Owen Hill, Vicky Marble, Scott Renfroe, and Mark Scheffel.

Please join CEA and the broad coalition that supports ASSET in encouraging the Education Committee to pass SB 33 this Thursday, January 24. Sign an online petition and ask other educators to do the same and/or email your Senator and ask for support for SB 33.

CEA backs ASSET to give all students access to higher ed’s opportunities

Posted January 15, 2013 by ceacapconn
Categories: Colorado Legislature, Governor John Hickenlooper, Higher Education, higher education tuition

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Legislators will introduce the Colorado ASSET bill today in the State Senate. A broad group of supporters back the bill, including the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition; Colorado Latino Leadership Advocacy and Research Organization; the Latin American Educational Foundation (LAEF); Padres y Jóvenes Unidos; Stand for Children and Together Colorado parent groups; Metropolitan State University of Denver; the Bell Policy Center; SEIU Local 105; and CEA.

All are members of the Higher Education Access Alliance (HEAA), the coalition that brings people and organizations together in support of students’ access to higher education regardless of their immigrant status. HEAA members are working with a wide range of legislators to pass the ASSET bill on its third try in the General Assembly. They will hold a news conference at rally today at the State Capitol at noon.

Colorado ASSET (Advancing Students for a Stronger Economy Tomorrow) will give undocumented students the opportunity to pay in-state tuition provided they meet specific criteria, including attending a Colorado public or private high school for a minimum of three years; graduating from that high school or obtaining a Colorado GED; earning admission to a Colorado college or university; and seeking legal immigration status if not already doing so.
We will follow ASSET as it moves through the Legislature toward final passage and Governor Hickenlooper’s signature. To learn more about ASSET, visit the coalition’s web site.

 

Legislators back at work for 2013 session

Posted January 9, 2013 by ceacapconn
Categories: Colorado Legislature, Governor John Hickenlooper, K-12 Funding, Public Education, Public Schools, School Funding, State Budget

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The Colorado Legislature opened its 2013 session today with nearly one-third newly elected, first-time state lawmakers. They are led by Senate President John Morse (D-Colorado Springs) and Speaker of the House Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver). These top leaders took over from Sen. Brandon Shaffer (D-Longmont), who was term-limited, and Rep. Frank McNulty (R-Highlands Ranch), who relinquished his party’s control as the result of the November elections. Sen. Bill Cadman (R) and Rep. Mark Waller (R), both of Colorado Springs, lead the minority party.

After Governor Hickenlooper’s State of the State speech tomorrow morning (Thursday, January 10), legislators will get down to business.

CEA is a partner in the Higher Education Access Alliance (HEAA), the coalition that will try again to pass ASSET legislation offering reduced tuition rates to undocumented students. The Legislature rejected the last two versions of this important legislation. Colorado ASSET will create a new category of public college/university tuition, called standard-rate, for undocumented students who meet specific criteria, such as attending and graduating from a Colorado high school or obtaining a Colorado GED. ASSET is a key element in ensuring Colorado’s economic recovery by offering more students the opportunity to attend college and increasing revenues to higher education institutions.

Through the Colorado School Finance Partnership, CEA and other organizations are working with legislators on a revision of the 1994 School Finance Act. Many in education and the Legislature believe the law is outdated and must be rewritten to enable the Legislature to provide more resources while supporting what voters say they want: safe neighborhood schools with excellent teachers who ensure that each student has the opportunity for a quality education. The finance law revision must also provide adequate resources without creating “winners and losers” among districts, as we already have this situation.

A new school finance law is one of several approaches* to achieving resources our schools need, but it alone will not solve the PreK-12 funding problem. However, if it is written well and widely accepted, a new finance act could be the vehicle to implement funding from a future tax increase.

As always, the dollar amount of school funding will be a big issue this year. Governor Hickenlooper said last fall that he does not want to make any more K-12 cuts, though he thinks the state will be able to make only a modest school funding increase for FY 2013-14.

CEA President Kerrie Dallman said, “The Governor is correct to point out that the projected increase ($31.7 million after accounting for inflation and higher student enrollment) repairs very little of the damage caused by massive state budget cuts over the last five years. Our K-12 investment is more than $1 billion behind the funding level Colorado voters said they wanted more than a decade ago. Districts have made painful, unpopular budget cuts, resulting in larger class sizes, fewer curriculum offerings, and increased fees for families. State leaders still need to address this serious situation.”

*Note: We expect a decision from the State Supreme Court in the Lobato lawsuit by summer, but likely not in time for legislators to consider the ruling before adjourning in May. Last year a lower court said the State is not providing a thorough and uniform public education system, that Colorado’s public school funding system is “irrational, arbitrary, and severely underfunded” and violates the State Constitution. CEA Dallman recently spoke to Colorado Public Radio listeners about the lawsuit.