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Thursday Churn: Tuition issue heats up


What’s churning:

Attorney General John Suthers Wednesday said he’s looking into Metro State’s recent vote to create a special tuition rate for undocumented students, something that’s been criticized by Republican lawmakers.

“We’re very vigorously researching this issue,” he told The Associated Press, saying many state colleges are interested in the issue. But he wouldn’t say who inquired or if his research would be made public. (See AP story.)

That announcement came the same day that 10 conservative Republican lawmakers wrote a letter to Gov. John Hickenlooper, asking that he “instruct” Metro to put the new tuition rate on hold and warning that legislation was being prepared for the 2013 session “to overturn the Metro State decision.”

A spokesman for Hickenlooper said the administration would have no comment until after the AG’s review is finished.

The issue could heat up further next week during a Wednesday afternoon meeting between the legislative Joint Budget Committee and Metro officials. JBC chair Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen, is among the critics of Metro’s move. The six-member committee should be an interesting forum, given that it’s equally split between Republicans and Democrats. And Metro is in the district of member Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, a staunch defender of the new tuition rate.

The State Board of Education Wednesday approved innovation status for six schools in the Falcon district near Colorado Springs. The innovation schools law passed in 2008 allows schools, groups of schools and districts to petition for innovation status to gain waivers from a wide variety of state laws, regulations and union contracts.

Education reformers hoped the law would allow experimentation and variety that would help improve student achievement but have been disappointed that use of the law has been confined almost entirely to schools in Denver. Wasson High School in Colorado Springs District 11 has achieved innovation status, as has the tiny Kit Carson district on the eastern plains.

But the Falcon applications are for limited purposes. In the case of five schools, it involves only flexibility is schedules, and in the case of one middle school the innovation request involves curriculum flexibility.

Falcon is in the middle of an organizational and academic shift that involves giving four “zones” within the district greater freedom in decision-making and reducing the power of the central administration.

The board also approved a request from the Littleton schools for a waiver from the mutual consent for placement provisions of the educator effectiveness law. Some board members questioned whether that would be a problem in a couple of years when the law goes into effect fully. Littleton administrators testified that they need the flexibility of their own placement policy in a time of declining enrollment.

What’s on tap:


The Denver board will hold a special public comment meeting at 5 p.m. at district headquarters.

The Jefferson County board has a special meeting scheduled. Time not yet announced.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Arnold stumbles again: Matt Arnold, Republican candidate for an at-large CU Regents seat, has suffered another campaign embarrassment in his primary race against Brian Davidson. Arnold, angry that Davidson backers were encouraging Arnold supporters to desert him, posted the home addresses of some Davidson supporters on his website. The addresses were taken down after Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson called Arnold about harassment of Davidson backers. Arnold previously had to defend himself against complaints his misstated his academic record. The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels has the details.

Mixed picture for choice laws: School choice was expanded by some state legislatures this year, but the picture was different in other states, Stateline.org reports.

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