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January 16, 2009 12:16 AM UTC

Interview with Speaker of the House Terrance Carroll

  • by: Akropoli

Transcript: Interview with Colorado Speaker of the House Terrance Carroll for The Colorado Progressive Voice. Interviewer: Jeff Graves

Jeff Graves: We have with us on the line, Speaker of the House, Terrance Carroll. Speaker Carroll, thank you very much for giving some of your time today.

Speaker Carroll: You’re welcome.

In your opening remarks to the Colorado General Assembly, you stated that a priority was “to build a world class public education system” here in Colorado. However, a recent Rocky Mountain News article suggests that 222 million dollar cuts in school budgets will be necessary to keep school districts solvent. How can we improve what we’re doing, while school districts are losing money?

We’re going to have to find ways to be creative in our delivery systems that are revenue neutral. This is one of those situations where as much as we don’t want school district to have to make cuts, when we have declining property tax revenue and declining sales tax revenue, we’re forced into a situation where cuts become a necessity, which means that we have to become more creative and look at how we deliver services.

What would be an example of those creative suggestions that you hope to advance in the upcoming legislative session?

One of the things that were looking at is moving away from high-stakes testing as the determinant of student achievement. We can continue to do things to improve issues in curriculum, and we’re going to do some of that this session. We’re going to implement some of the suggestions from the Governor’s P20 Council around teacher quality and do as much as we can under our existing budget to continue to expand full day kindergarten and pre-K.

You mentioned the possibility of rolling back the high pressure testing like the CSAP. In your opinion, is CSAP currently as it stands an effective program; is that something that you’d like to see continued?

As it stands now, CSAP is not very effective. It serves a purpose in that we get a snapshot of where students are. Where it becomes an ineffective is that snapshot comes too late; students have already gone off to the next grade level by the time we figure out what happened in the previous grade where they took the CSAP exam. So that makes it ineffective. There are also studies from groups like Rand Institute which shows that high-stakes testing does very little to improve student achievement. If we are going to have testing, it has to be testing where we get immediate results and is geared towards remediation and correcting whatever problems we may find.

It’s interesting that you mention remediation. According to a Denver Post article, one third of Colorado graduates need remedial classes as they go into higher education. What would you consider the best way to make sure that Colorado students are prepared for college and don’t have to spend time taking those remedial classes?

I think one of things we have to do is look at what areas in the students need additional assistance when they go into college and focus on those in high school. I suspect a lot of it has to do with math and English competency, and writing competency as well; and focus on that more, not just at high school, but start focusing on that more at an elementary school level. It really is a waste of money to have to remediate so many students because it puts them further behind and keeps them in college longer, which costs more money.

With college costs going up, that’s a big concern. In your opinion what do you think that the future of higher education in Colorado is? Are we going to start to see more schools becoming privatized or are we going to take a stand and make sure that public education and higher learning continues to exist in Colorado?

I certainly hope that we don’t see privatization, and I can say that most of the 100 members of the General Assembly support a strong public higher education system in the state of Colorado. But in order for us to provide that we’re going to have to make some tough decisions and some tough political decisions, actually, about the amount of fiscal policy and budgetary policy that we have in our State constitution: from amendment 23 to the Gallagher amendment, and to the infamous TABOR. The only way that we’re really ever going to be able to fully address higher ed funding, and keep it within the state and maintain it as public a good is once we find a way to deal with these budgetary constraints in the Constitution and remove them.

A big part of our audience of the Colorado Progressive Voice are students at the University of Denver. Speaker Carroll, you not only hold a law degree from DU but also a Masters of Divinity from the Iliff School of Theology. In your opinion, what should the proper place of individual faith be in public service?

I think that there is much room for faith in public discourse. You should not ask someone to turn off their faith because they are involved in public discourse. The problem becomes if you believe that your faith is the only legitimate path for public discourse, and you try to impose your faith on everyone else as a test for political legitimacy.



6 thoughts on “Interview with Speaker of the House Terrance Carroll

  1. You bang the gavel too hard.  I meant to tell you two years ago, but didn’t get around to it.  It hurts my little ears.

    Anyway, it’s good to have you as Speaker and your answers didn’t scare me.  Not even the part on faith, and that’s no small feat.

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