Last week I pondered in a Denver Post op-ed what the effect might be of the statehouse Democrats elevating pro-public school choice Rep. Terrance Carroll to Speaker of the House:
Carroll is set to appoint fellow Democrats to the House Education Committee. In recent years, the committee, largely stacked with handpicked union favorites, has killed or watered down many K-12 education bills deemed unacceptable by the union. CEA may lose some of its leverage to bottle up education reform in committee.
Well, yesterday came the revelation of the House Education Committee assignments. Michael Merrifield retains the chair, with Judy Solano as the vice-chair. Overall, the membership of the committee appears to move scarcely a whit in the direction of parental empowerment, choice, and accountability.
(And when I make that remark, I include the membership from both parties – Republican and Democrat. I’ll have to wait before passing judgment about a few of the newly-elected legislators on the committee. But I’d be glad to learn more about the positions of Randy Baumgardner, Carole Murray, and Mark Waller.)
It remains to be seen what progress the majority Democrats will make on education reform with this situation. What kind of leverage will the new Speaker, relatively free of union ties, be able to have with a House Education Committee that looks ready to reprise its role as the place where meaningful K-12 reform goes to die? It will be one of the more intriguing story lines of the coming legislative session.
If Republicans are interested in coming up with real education solutions, and want to talk intelligently and effectively about the issue, they’ll want to pay attention to this dynamic and how it develops. And of course, I hope my commentary will be of some value, too.