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Looking back at the 2011 legislative session

Colorado lawmakers love to dabble in education and the 2011 session was no exception, with dozens of bills introduced on issues such as bullying, tax credits for private school tuition, undocumented students, the state accountability system, teacher pensions and much more.

When the regular session concluded today, many of those bills were left on the cutting room floor, victims of the state budget crisis and the difficulty of getting bills passed in a legislature with split partisan control.

Containing the size of budget cuts stood out as the top education issue. Legislation was passed that could have important implications for funding state colleges and universities, but its impact is in the future.

“Initiative fatigue” also was an important factor in what did and didn’t happen with education in the legislature this year.

Over the past three years, lawmakers have mandated an overhaul of the state’s testing system and academic standards and passed an educator effectiveness law that gained national prominence for linking teacher and principal evaluations to student academic growth.

As Education News Colorado’s Todd Engdahl points out, many legislators and state education officials hoped for a less momentous year to allow time to begin implementing those major initiatives. They got their wish.

The State Board of Education’s official hiring today of Robert Hammond as the new education commissioner represents another nod toward implementation over continued high-speed innovation. Hammond, a Colorado Department of Education insider, is generally regarded more as a solid administrator than an aggressive and visionary leader.

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