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Monday Churn: Calling for safer schools

Updated – An advocacy group and several education associations are calling on elected leaders to create a statewide Safe Schools Task Force to reduce bullying in Colorado schools.

One Colorado, which works on behalf of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals and their families, issued the call today in an open letter to newly elected Gov. John Hickenlooper, members of the 2011-12 General Assembly and others.

“In recent months, young people all across the country have taken their own lives after suffering from anti-LGBT bullying,” said Brad Clark, executive director of One Colorado. “We must head off the crisis in Colorado by addressing this problem immediately.”

In addition to Clark, representatives of the Colorado Education Association, American Federation of Teachers-Colorado, Colorado Association of School Executives and Colorado Association of School Boards signed the letter.

You can read the letter here and the press release here. Learn more about One Colorado at their website.

Also today, the Colorado Department of Education announced the state is one of eight selected by the U.S. Department of Education to participate in the 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study or TIMSS.

“It’s important that we know how Colorado students are performing in math and science in comparison with the world’s strongest students,” said Dwight Jones, the state’s education commissioner, in a news release.

In Colorado, some 50 schools in 28 districts will administer the test to a sample of 8th-grade students beginning April 4. Read the release here.

What’s churning

The unpaid members of the State Board of Education have a pretty busy workday ahead of them today. They’ll first meet from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the boardroom at the Department of Education, 201 E. Colfax Ave., to review bids submitted by search firms vying to help the board find a successor to Commissioner Dwight Jones.

Jones’ last day at work is Dec. 13, and the board has named Robert Hammond as interim commissioner. The board hopes to have a search firm selected and ready to go by its January meeting, but a new commissioner isn’t expected to be selected until spring.

After that session, board members will walk down the hill to the Department of Higher Education at 1560 Broadway, where they have a 2-4 p.m. joint meeting with the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. The two panels are supposed to adopt a framework and “a joint vision” for a new state testing system. Action by the two boards, required by the 2008 Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids, is one step in a long process, as a new state testing system isn’t expected to be in place until 2014. (Get more information here.)
Public Employees’ Retirement Association Executive Director Meredith Williams is one of five finalists to head the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, according to Pensions & Investments, an industry news service. The Texas system, at nearly $95 billion, is about three times larger than PERA.

What’s on tap:

The Adams 12-Five Star school board convenes a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. this evening to vote on charter applications from the Global Village Academy and the Goals Charter Academy. The board returns to work at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday for a regular board meeting. Both sessions will be held in the Aspen Room of the Training Center at the Educational Support Center, 1500 E. 128th Ave. in Thornton, and you can see both agendas here.

The annual higher ed marathon kicks off at 9 a.m. Tuesday when the Joint Budget Committee holds its budget hearing for the Department of Higher Education. The format includes presentations by leaders from each of the state’s systems and institutions, so a full day is scheduled. Hearing room A in the Legislative Services Building, 200 E. 14th Avenue, is expected to be packed with college presidents, trustees, DHE officials and CCHE members and the ever-present higher ed lobbyist corps.

No decisions are made at such affairs, but the session will give presidents a chance to pitch their colleges, and committee members have the opportunity to ask about touchy issues such tuition rates and how colleges might tolerate various levels of state budget cuts.

The annual convention of the Colorado Association of School Boards opens Thursday at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, running through Sunday (get more information here).

The Colorado Commission on Higher Education meets at 1 p.m. Thursday with a heavy agenda, including approval of the higher education master plan and votes on tuition flexibility proposals from the CU System, the Community College System, the University of Northern Colorado and Adams, Mesa and Western State colleges. The panel previously approved plans from the CSU System, Metro State and Fort Lewis college (see story).

The meeting will be held on CU-Boulder’s East Campus at 4001 Discovery Drive (see agenda).

The Joint Budget Committee will hear a staff briefing Friday on the Department of Education’s proposed 2010-11 budget from 9 a.m. to noon in the third-floor committee room at the Legislative Services Building, 200 E. 14th Ave. Outgoing Gov. Bill Ritter has proposed a very modest increase in K-12 spending, but not enough to cover inflation and enrollment growth (see background story).

The State Council on Educator Effectiveness meets from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday in the Hershner Room at the Wells Fargo Center, 1700 Lincoln St. The meeting will be preceded by a 9 a.m. presentation on educator effectiveness sponsored by the Colorado Legacy Foundation. Theodore Hershberg of the University of Pennsylvania and Claire Robertson-Kraft of Operation Public Education who will discuss the framework for school reform contained in the 2009 book “A Grand Bargain for Education Reform: New Rewards and Supports for New Accountability.”

Good reads from elsewhere:

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