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Briefs: Hick stays on message

Gov. John Hickenlooper is known for his nuanced position on school funding. In public comments he regularly sounds a sympathetic note about the budget cuts school districts have taken in recent years, but he’s never endorsed tax increases to help fund education, and he’s criticized a judge’s ruling against the state in the Lobato school funding lawsuit.

On Wednesday Hickenlooper appeared at the annual luncheon of Great Education Colorado, the advocacy group most identified with support for increased school funding.

Despite the audience, the governor stayed on message. “I don’t think there’s a school in the state that hasn’t had to ratchet down and find every efficiency,” Hickenlooper said. While he noted that the state kept per-pupil school funding stable this year and that the economy is growing slowly, he said, “Let’s not be unrealistic” about expectations for future funding.

“I know you guys are the most passionate” about this issue, Hickenlooper said. “Use that as wisely and efficiently as possible.”

Hickenlooper gave only brief remarks at the annual fund-raising event, which honored State Board of Education member Elaine Gantz Berman for her service to education.

After Hickenlooper left the ballroom at the Denver Athletic Club, other speakers promoted Great Education’s “Year of the Student” campaign, which is intended to put pressure on the legislature to consider school funding reform in 2013. In a video promoting that campaign, Berman stressed the importance of “tying resources to good reforms.” (Watch the video.)

→ The Colorado Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, Wednesday formally came out against Amendment 64, which would legalize marijuana use in Colorado.

“We remain incredibly concerned about the impact of having additional access to marijuana would have on our students and our schools,” said CEA President Kerrie Dallman. “I could see over the course of a semester or a year [these students’] motivation decrease dramatically, and I could begin to see the real effects of depression begin to set in, and that had real and lasting impacts on their success in school.”

Gov. Hickenlooper recently announced his opposition to the amendment, which is on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Watch video of Dallman’s statement, learn more on the opponents’ website and get the pro side on the supporters’ website. Also see the series by EdNews and partners about medical marijuana and student drug use.

→ The intensity level continues to rise in key races for control of the Colorado legislature.

A conservative advocacy group, Compass Colorado, has launched a video ad against Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Westminster, who’s in a tight, high-spending race against Republican Lang Sias in District 19.

The Spot blog on denverpost.com has the details, including a link to the video. Reporter Tim Hoover also dissects the veracity of the ad’s claims.

Hudak is a high-profile figure in Colorado education, having served on the State Board of Education and because of her sponsorship of key education legislation, including the revamp of the state’s district and school accreditation system.