With Democrats in Charge, Forget Common Sense

The reactionary Democrats in the State Capitol are at it again, and one of them got caught in a lie! This afternoon, the House Education Committee – on a party line vote – killed Senate Bill 73, a proposal sponsored by two commonsense Democrats (Senator Chris Romer and Representative Michael Garcia) and supported by the Republican caucus. The bill would require students receiving a public high school diploma to demonstrate basic English competency. It even lets local school boards define the standards.

SB 73 passed the Senate 33-1, with only arch-education establishment apologist Senator Sue Windels (D-Arvada) voting against it. But the House Education Committee is stacked with a flock of reactionary Democrats, who want to preserve the “soft” and uncompetitive education monopoly. Their reasoning for voting against English competency as a requirement for graduation?

1. It would be an “unfunded mandate” on public schools, with bundles of fixed costs tied up in paying union employees and administrative bureaucrats. “Oh, I see. You actually want us to teach kids English literacy? That’s going to cost you.”

2. The other excuse was even more pathetic. Many of them insulted the intelligence of anyone listening by saying they supported the concept but really didn’t want to pass any “piecemeal” reforms before the Governor convened his (still theoretical) comprehensive education reform council.

But that didn’t stop them from approving measures to strip the power of the State Board of Education to grant waivers to innovative school districts, to rob parents of educational choices by stripping power from the Charter School Institute, to undermine school accountability by weakening the CSAP test, to mandate sex education standards for school districts, to lower the minimum compulsory school age, to create a new teacher identifier system, to change the qualifications for the Commissioner of Education, and to generate more funding for full-day kindergarten. So don’t buy the cop out.

We could have foreseen this coming two weeks ago, when I wrote:

Before the sex ed bill reaches them, the House Education Committee will have another test. The committee will have to decide on SB 73 by Chris Romer (D-Denver), the bill requiring high schools to make sure their graduates are prepared for life with basic English literacy. (Of course, as Mike Rosen pointed out, such an idea would simply be too sensible for the education establishment and their legislative allies to swallow.) Just one more chance for these Democrat lawmakers’ constituents to see where their priorities lie.

As long as the Democrats, working as proxies for the alphabet soup of established education interests to benefit the adults in the system (CEA, CASE, CASB), you can expect very few – if any – of even the most basic commonsense reforms that would benefit children. But it also makes you wonder why one of the committee Democrats’ closest allies could play so fast and loose with the truth.

Democrat State Board of Education member Evie Hudak testified that the Board was all opposed to SB 73, even though no formal vote had been taken. Representative Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) did a little on-site fact-checking: while Hudak was testifying, he called a State Board member who indeed supported SB 73. So, the Democratic Board member had to backtrack. Ms. Hudak, you’re entitled to your own opinions, but please don’t presume to speak for the entire Board.

Kudos to legislators, both Republicans and Democrats, who are willing to take the step to connect the school system to the real world by preparing, and not patronizing, students who are not native English speakers. That goes for Sen. Romer and Rep. Garcia, who bravely brought their proposal forward against the wishes of the education establishment closely allied with so many in their Democrat Party. And the four Republicans in the House Education Committee – Cory Gardner, Victor Mitchell, Ray Rose, and Ken Summers – who voted to move SB 73 forward.

With Democrats in the charge, the State Capitol seems more averse to common sense with every passing day.

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