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Wednesday Churn: Literacy rollout

What’s churning:

Gov. John Hickenlooper and Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia have made improving early childhood literacy one of their education policy priorities, and Garcia has announced Feb. 27-March 2 as Colorado Literacy Week.

Among the events is a Tuesday town hall meeting with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan at the Denver School of Science and Technology’s Green Valley Ranch campus. According to a news release, Garcia and Duncan will make an announcement about “One Book 4 Colorado.”

At noon on Wednesday the governor, Garcia and Christine Benero, president of Mile High United Way, will unveil what’s being called Colorado’s Early Literacy Initiative and announce local programs that will be receiving United Way grants.

Among things to be announced is the expansion of a Minnesota-based early literacy program into Denver – get details in this news release.

Last fall Garcia and Benero led a statewide listening tour to gather information about successful local early childhood programs and lay the groundwork for the literacy initiative.

The lieutenant governor and Benero will again be hopscotching around the state next week. On Friday, National Read Across America Day, Hickenlooper, Garcia and other officials will fan out to schools to read to kids.

Early literacy legislation, House Bill 12-1238, is pending at the Capitol. The bill is intended to improve third-grade reading levels and would create a mechanism for schools to hold back third graders with poor reading skills and then catch them up. The bill was developed in consultation with the administration. The measure is scheduled for its first hearing on Feb. 29 in the House Education Committee.

A legal dispute between Denver Public Schools and its teachers union goes before a judge today when attorneys argue whether a lawsuit over recent innovation school approvals should move forward.

A 2011 lawsuit by the Denver Classroom Teachers Association contends the Denver school board acted illegally in approving 10 schools in the city’s Far Northeast for innovation status without first securing the support of at least 60 percent of each school’s faculty, as required by the 2008 Innovation Schools Act.

The district contends such votes could not be taken when the applications were being made because the schools were still hiring. However, all teachers hired for those schools were told of the plans to seek innovation status during the hiring process.

Each of the contested innovation applications was subsequently approved by the State Board of Education, And on Jan. 23, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers issued an opinion supporting the actions of both the DPS and state boards.

DPS lawyers filed a motion in October asking the DCTA lawsuit be dismissed, and oral arguments on that motion are set for today before Denver District Judge Ann B. Frick.

What’s on tap:

The pace picks back up for education bills at the Capitol today, with the House Education Committee considering House Bill 12-1155, which would change the way the state subsidizes resident student tuition in an effort to get kids to graduate sooner. Senate Ed will take up Senate Bill 12-121, which would create a loan program that charter schools could use to match BEST grants.

The state Capitol Construction Assistance Board meets 1-3:30 p.m. at the Colorado Association of School Boards, 1200 Grant St. Agenda

Good reads from elsewhere:

Affirmative action back in play: The U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday agreed to consider a case involving whether the University of Texas has the right to consider race and ethnicity in admissions. It’s been nearly a decade since the high court weighed in on the issue. USA Today has the details.

The EdNews’ Churn is a daily roundup of briefs, notes and meetings in the world of Colorado education. To submit an item for consideration in this listing, please email us at EdNews@EdNewsColorado.org.

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