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Republican Joyce Rankin resigning from Colorado State Board of Education

The Colorado state seal adorns a gate in front of the offices of the Colorado Department of Education, with 201 East Colfax above the doors to the building.

The Colorado State Board of Education is growing from seven members to nine as Republican Joyce Rankin plans to resign her seat.

Nicholas Garcia / Chalkbeat

Colorado State Board of Education member Joyce Rankin plans to resign her seat in January.

Rankin, a Carbondale Republican, has represented western Colorado on the State Board of Education since 2015, when she was appointed to fill a midterm vacancy. She was reelected to a full six-year term in 2020. 

Over the last few years, Rankin has been one of the most forceful board members in pushing for strict oversight of school districts and teacher prep programs as they work to meet state requirements related to reading instruction.

During her tenure and with her support, Colorado lawmakers required school districts to adopt reading curriculum backed by evidence and mandated that early elementary teachers get new training. The legislation was co-sponsored by her husband, state Sen. Bob Rankin, who also announced his resignation last week. 

A woman with gray/blond hair and blue eyes wearing a white lace blouse and pearls.

Joyce Rankin

Courtesy Joyce Rankin

The State Board has been responsible for implementation and oversight of these changes. Rankin took required reading training herself and asked many detailed questions about reading instruction, reading assessments, and teacher training in numerous State Board hearings.

“It’s been an honor to serve the children and educators of our state alongside my fellow board members,” Rankin said in a press release announcing her resignation. “I’ll always be proud of the board’s collaboration on key issues to support children and educators, especially our commitment to ensuring all students can read at grade level because this is absolutely the foundation for success in school and throughout life.”

Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes praised Rankin’s leadership and the time she devoted to visiting schools and libraries and working on reading issues.

“Board Member Rankin’s commitment to the goals of the READ Act and support of scientifically based reading instruction for teachers will make a positive impact in the lives of children for years to come,” Anthes said in a press release. 

Rankin has served in the minority for most of her time on the State Board. Democrats, who first took control of the Board in 2016, expanded their majority in November. The State Board is growing from seven members to nine, and six of them will be Democrats.

During recent debates about social studies standards, Rankin said Colorado should be trying to produce informed citizens rather than active citizens, and said history and civics lessons should reflect the European origins of the United States. The Democratic majority turned down many of her amendments.

Rankin plans to formally step down Jan. 10. On Jan. 11, new board members will be sworn in. A Republican vacancy committee for the Third Congressional District will choose her  replacement. 

A November 2024 election will determine who will serve out the remainder of the term through January 2027.

The State Board of Education hires the education commissioner, sets academic standards, oversees the school accountability and teacher licensure systems, hears charter school appeals, and sets rules for grant programs.

Bureau Chief Erica Meltzer covers education policy and politics and oversees Chalkbeat Colorado’s education coverage. Contact Erica at emeltzer@chalkbeat.org.

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