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Thursday Churn: License bill signed

What’s churning:

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday signed House Bill 11-1201, a bipartisan measure that’s intended to help reduce the state’s backlog of educator license applications.

The measure will streamline the Department of Education’s licensing workload and give it more flexibility to spend fee revenue and hire staff in the licensing office. Coupled with a recent increase in licensing fees, the department hopes to reduce its backlog and install a new computerized system by summer.

The main portion of the new law removes the requirement that the department verify completion of continuing education work. Instead, applicants who want on endorsement on their licenses will have to file affidavits confirming they completed the work.

See this Education News Colorado backgrounder on the licensing backlog.

Meanwhile, Douglas County School District officials are urging students, parents and community members to ignore a planned protest May 19 at the graduation ceremony for Ponderosa High School. A controversial Kansas church, Westboro Baptist, is planning a demonstration after a Ponderosa senior wrote a letter to the Denver Post concerning the U.S. Supreme Court decision protecting the church’s right to protest at soldiers’ funerals.

“We have also been notified that several counter-protests are also being planned by students and other members of the community at the stadium,” reads the district’s letter to the community. “While we acknowledge both group’s constitutionally-protected right to protest, we are requesting that they be respectful of those going to the graduation ceremony, as well as the community surrounding the stadium.”

District officials say they’re working closely with local police to provide security and have identified “suitable locations” for the protestors to gather:

“We ask all of those involved to avoid engaging or inciting the protesters. We also encourage everyone to avoid Westboro Baptist Church’s website. There have been reports that the site may contain computer viruses that may harm your computer.”

What’s on tap:

Jefferson County Public Schools holds a budget hearing as part of its school board meeting. The meeting starts at 5 p.m. but the board is in closed session for an hour for legal advice, and is expected to convene in public at 6 p.m. Agenda.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Civics crisis: Fewer than half of American eighth-graders knew the purpose of the Bill of Rights on a recent national exam. New York Times.

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