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Garcia highlights education priorities

The top education goals of the Hickenlooper administration are implementation of the educator effectiveness law, improving third-grade reading scores and raising college completion rates, Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia said Thursday.

Garcia spoke to reporters and a large group of state employees and education lobbyists in his first major public talk since Senate confirmation this week as director of the Department of Higher Education.

Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia spoke about the Hickenlooper administration's education priorities on April 28.
Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia spoke about the Hickenlooper administration's education priorities on April 28.

In addition to that job and being lieutenant governor, Garcia is the head of the yet-to-be-convened Education Leadership Council.

Here’s what Garcia said about the three priorities:

Educator effectiveness: Noting that it will take “tens of millions of dollars” to implement Senate Bill 10-191, Garcia said the administration is working to raise private donations locally and nationally for putting new evaluation systems in place. He wouldn’t name potential donors but said some might be revealed soon.

The recent report of the State Council for Educator Effectiveness estimates a cost of $42.4 million to get evaluation systems up and running statewide, with other continuing district costs for evaluations and support of educators who need improvement.

Third-grade reading: Garcia said his office will launch a statewide initiative to improve literacy and reading scores among third-graders, started with an effort to survey communities to “find out how to provide the support they need” in that area. He said no specific program or structure will be set up until after that survey process has been finished.

College completion: Garcia said Colorado has formally joined a national effort known as Complete to Compete, which will give the state potential access to national grants. The campaign is sponsored by the National Governors’ Association.

Garcia also touted the recent completion of seven statewide agreements intended to ensure transferability of community college credits to four-year schools. Those agreements include economics, business, history, math, two psychology majors and Spanish. The so-called articulation agreements are part of a program that started several years ago.

The lieutenant governor also said the administration is “fully endorsing the passage of Senate Bill 11-052 as amended.” That’s the bill, still slowly working its way through the Senate, which would establish a modest performance funding system for state colleges and universities. The program wouldn’t start for several years and not until after a minimum level of basic state higher ed support is reached. He said a performance system would enhance the ability to achieve state goals such as higher college completion rates.

Garcia said the Education Leadership Council, which was announced in January, hasn’t been launched yet because of continuing consultations with education groups about potential members and because the administration wanted to wait until a new commissioner of education is named.

The council should start work within the next couple of months, Garcia said, with its initial focus being assisting in implementation of major education reform legislation passed in the last few years.

The lieutenant governor was flanked by a cross section of education leaders as he spoke, including college presidents and legislators.

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