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Thursday Churn: The end is near

What’s churning

Lawyers in the Lobato case told Denver District Judge Sheila Rappaport on Wednesday that they’ll be able to finish the trial as scheduled on Friday.

Things seemed to drag a bit in recent days but got back on schedule with a day of mostly routine testimony Wednesday by Department of Education staffers and one former legislator.

Today’s witness list for the state looks livelier – education Commissioner Robert Hammond; Matt Gianneschi, deputy director of the Department of Higher Education; Sen. Keith King, R-Colorado Springs, who has a long background in school finance; and John Andrews, the GOP former Senate president who now heads a conservative think tank. (Check Twitter today for EdNews updates on the testimony.)

Lawyers for the two sets of plaintiffs promised they’ll finish rebuttal witnesses by midday Friday, leaving the afternoon for closing arguments.

One witness who won’t be testifying is former GOP Sen. Norma Anderson of Jefferson County, who also has deep school finance knowledge. Anderson recently contacted the attorney general’s office, saying she wanted to testify to set the record straight about creation of the school finance law in 1994.

Rappaport on Wednesday denied the AG’s motion to let Anderson testify, essentially saying the deadlines for witness notification were long past and that Anderson’s potential testimony didn’t look important enough to waive those deadlines. (See the EdNews archive of Lobato stories.)

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Jan. 11 signed an executive order creating the Education Leadership Council to advise him on education issues. On Thursday, the 38 members of the panel were announced.

Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, as announced earlier, will chair the panel, which includes lots of familiar faces, including education Commissioner Robert Hammond, Colorado Commission on Higher Education chairman Hereford Percy, Jane Goff from the State Board of Education, legislative education committee chairs Bob Bacon and Tom Massey plus state Sen. Mike Johnston of Denver, DPS board member Nate Easley, superintendents Mike Miles of Harrison and John Barry of Aurora, community college chief Nancy McCallin, CU President Bruce Benson, CSU Chancellor Joe Blake, former DU head Dan Ritchie and Metro President Steve Jordan.

We could go on, but you can read the full list here.

Some in the charter school world reportedly are unhappy with the list, which includes only one member with a charter background, David Greenberg of the Denver School of Science and Technology.

The council has been compared to the P-20 Education Coordinating Council that advised former Gov. Bill Ritter. The council’s work led in part to the 2008 Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids. Trying to remember who was on that panel? See the membership list here.

The Legislative Council, the group of House and Senate leaders that manages legislative business and has some other functions, met Wednesday to approve the language that will go in the 2011 blue book, the ballot-measure guide that will be sent to voters before the Nov. 1 election.

There’s only one ballot measure this year – Proposition 103. That plan would raise state income and sales taxes for five years to provide extra money for schools and colleges (get background here).

Tax hikes, of course, are a partisan flash point. While the panel approved the blue book language (see text), party leaders issued dueling news releases praising and blasting the measure.

In case you missed it, the DU Center for Colorado’s Economic Future on Wednesday issued the second installment of its study of state finances, and the projections are worse than those in the first installment. Get details and links in the Wednesday Churn.

What’s on tap:

Jefferson County school board members hold their first regular meeting of the new school year at 6 p.m., district headquarters, 1829 Denver West Drive in Golden. Agenda

Good reads from elsewhere:

Confessions of a bad teacher – John Owens left a successful publishing career to teach in a New York City public school. “I thought I could do some good. I am a middle-aged white guy from the suburbs, but I’m not lazy. I’m not crazy. I’m good with kids, and I love literature.” He didn’t last a year, and it wasn’t because of the kids. Salon.com.

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