(Promoted by Colorado Pols)
Sen. Owen Hill.
State Senator Owen Hill, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, appeared on KNUS last Saturday to discuss upcoming legislation which will impact school funding and licensure for Colorado teachers.
Earlier in same “Weekend Wakeup” show, hosts Chuck Bonniwell and Julie Hayden featured another guest, Stacy Rader, from the Colorado League of Charter Schools. Both Rader and Sen. Hill advocated in favor of legislation that would mandate equal sharing of all tax revenues between public schools and charter schools, which receive public funding but are independently operated.
Sen. Hill and Rader also oppose possible legislation that would mandate that teachers in publicly funded schools be licensed by the state.
While Senator Hill maintained that there is bipartisan support for the equal funding proposal, the interviews with him and Rader revealed that lawmakers may not be in agreement that these two categories of schools operate under the same rules and laws governing their accountability and transparency, and that funding is discriminately unfair to charters.
Despite the differences in management, accountability, and oversight, Owen Hill and Vader work hard to frame both categories of schools as “public”. They appear to want to blur the lines of distinction between them for funding purposes, but insist on distinguishing them for purposes of teacher accountability.
It gets confusing when charter advocates demand local and independent control for charters, but reject state-wide mandates for accountability and oversight of teachers. Yet, at the same time, they reject the current laws which allow local districts to fund their schools according to the needs and demands of their communities.
COLORADO STATE SENATOR AND CHAIRMAN OF THE STATE SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, OWEN HILL: Absolutely. We’ve got a bipartisan opportunity here. We have two kind of main categories of our public schools in Colorado. We have the traditional neighborhood schools, and then we have public charter schools. So when you hear about people going to charter school, these are all public schools as well. But sadly, there are many districts in Colorado that don’t share the tax dollars — the property tax dollars or the bonding money — they don’t share that money equally with these public charter schools. […] So, when you pay your taxes to the state, you know, every April, those are all shared equally. But when you write that check for your property taxes — usually it will come out of your mortgage — that property tax money, that is not shared equally. And many districts are saying they are going to fund public charters at about 75 to 80% of the other traditional charter — [correcting himself] or traditional public schools. And so we need to honor our constitution and say, “Every single one of the public school students will be treated equally and fairly.” That’s what our bill will do this year. […] We give our local school boards the opportunity to determine how that funding is shared. And sadly, many of these local school boards have this — uh, they kind of treat the public charters like a, uh, inferior—
BONNIWELL: Red-headed, left-handed stepchild. Yeah.
HILL: There you go, that’s exactly right.
Following the discussion on equal funding for charter schools, host Chuck Bonniwell questioned Hill about a possible teacher licensing mandate, which seemed to dismiss pedagogical study and training, while conflating advanced degrees in different subject areas with a person’s ability and expertise to understand and implement proven, effective, developmentally appropriate practices in the classroom.