Each week of the 2017 session of the Colorado General Assembly we’ll bring you the latest news and analysis of legislation impacting the early development, health and education of Colorado kids. Click here for a full list of the legislation we’re tracking. Here are some highlights from this week:
HB 17-1210 (Lontine & Buckner/Priola & Fields) Addressing Out-of-School Suspension & Expulsion of Young Children
A high quality, nurturing environment in the early school years unlocks the potential of all of our children to learn about themselves and the world. This bill would update statute to offer better guidance to administrators regarding out-of-school suspensions & expulsions for young children. Read more about the bill’s bipartisan passage out of House Education committee on Monday and its next steps here.
SB17-061 (Hill & William/Sias) Additional Funding Charter School Operating Costs
All public school students deserve to receive equal access to the same basic level of funding when local tax dollars are raised. Read more about the bill’s bipartisan passage out of the Senate and why the Children’s Campaign is a supporter. Read more about the bill here.
HB 17-1186 (Pettersen & Landgraf/Coram) Health Coverage Prescription Contraceptives Supply
Reducing unintended pregnancies, through policies like those in this bill, allows women to finish their educations and become financially secure before starting a family, thereby helping to reduce the risks of poverty for kids. This bill would require health benefit plans to provide contraception coverage to reimburse providers for initially dispensing a three-month supply of prescription contraceptives and subsequently for dispensing a 12-month supply of the same prescription contraceptive to the insured person. Read more about the bill’s status and why the Children’s Campaign supports it here.
Two reports out this week about proposed changes to the federal health care law show it would result in hundreds of thousands of Coloradans losing health coverage, while costing the state of Colorado billions of dollars.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) this week released its estimate of how the proposal being considered in Congress to replace the Affordable Care Act would impact the uninsured rate and federal spending. The CBO estimates that the proposal, the American Health Care Act, would result in 14 million more Americans being uninsured in 2018 than under current law. That number would increase to 21 million in 2020 and 24 million in 2026. The CBO estimates that in 2026, 52 million people would be without health insurance compared to 28 million who would be uninsured under current law.
The CBO also estimates that there would be an $880 billion reduction in federal spending on Medicaid over the next 10 years, which would contribute to a $337 billion reduction in the federal deficit during that time. The reduction in federal Medicaid spending is due to proposed changes in the structure of Medicaid, including a cap on the entire Medicaid program and phasing out the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, which according to the CBO would both cut the amount of federal spending for Medicaid that goes to states and increase the number of people who are uninsured.
The Colorado Health Institute released a report this week on the current proposal’s impact on Colorado, particularly for Colorado’s Medicaid program and state budget. CHI estimates that by 2030, 600,000 Coloradans would lose Medicaid eligibility under the proposal, and that most would become uninsured as a result. CHI also estimates that Colorado would lose $340 million in federal funding in 2020 when the proposed changes in Medicaid would go into effect and a total of $14 billion during the first 10 years of the proposed changes to Medicaid. By 2030, Colorado would lose a total of $6 billion in federal funding due to the proposal to cap the entire Medicaid program, even without taking into account the proposed phasing out of the Medicaid expansion.
If Congress moves forward with the current proposal, which would shift costs and risk to states, Colorado lawmakers would be left with troubling choices about eliminating access to health coverage and benefits for children and families and the state budget.
This week the Equity in Colorado Coalition submitted feedback in a letter to Commissioner of Education Katy Anthes and other key policymakers in response to the State’s proposed plan for implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA was signed into law in December 2015 and was originally passed by Congress in 1965 as civil rights legislation to better support students, and in particular populations that have been historically underserved by the public education system.
The letter included 24 organizations as signatories, including the Children’s Campaign. Several members of the coalition served on the “Spoke” committees that were charged with drafting parts of the state plan. The primary focus of the coalition is ensuring Colorado stays focused on issues affecting students of color, students living in poverty, emerging bilingual students, and students with disabilities. Our letter details the ways we believe our current draft state plan could focus more on equity and better serving these groups of students. Examples of recommendations include:
- Count every student in participation rate calculations, including all non-participants.
- Articulate a plan for monitoring testing rates for newly classified English Learners (ELs), as well as reclassification rates for EL students who reach English proficiency.
- Include plans for how the State will release and present data to the public.
- Provide more detail about how Colorado will meet the needs of students with disabilities.
Read the letter, and see the full list of organizations who signed on in support, here.
Bill is our Vice President of Early Childhood Initiatives and has spent more than a fifteen years teaching, studying, and working on issues in public education and public policy. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and a master’s in education from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education before working as a public school teacher and administrator in the greater Hartford, Connecticut area for several years. Bill also holds a master’s degree in public policy as well as a master’s degree in political science and worked in several positions in the non-profit sector prior to joining the Colorado Children’s Campaign. He is a graduate of Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Spring and enjoys spending time in the Colorado mountains with his wife, son, daughter and Golden Retriever. If you know Bill, then you won’t be surprised to know his biggest pet peeve is impoliteness. Learn more about what he can’t live without on our website!
Curious whether more high school students are using marijuana now that retail sales are legal? Check the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey.
Wondering how many hours of screen time they are getting each week? Check the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey. Interested in where in the state teens are most physically active? Check the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey.
Read more from the Colorado Health Institute about why the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey is a critical source of information about child well-being.
In the 2016-2017 school year, 42 percent of all Colorado students qualified for free or reduced price lunch, up from 34 percent in 2007-2008. In order to qualify for free or reduced price lunch, a student must live in a family whose income is at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level, or approximately $45,500 for a family of four. To find the percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch in your county or school district, please visit the KIDS COUNT Data Center.
Summary: This bill would create the Discipline Strategies Pilot Program to provide funds to school districts for professional development for educators in the use of evidence-based, culturally responsive disciplinary training and developmentally appropriate responses to the behavioral issues of young children in preschool through 3rd grade. The pilot program will be funded with gifts, grants and donations.
Position: The Children’s Campaign strongly supports this bill, which would provide supports to educators on developmentally appropriate strategies for young children’s behavior in the classroom so that all children can reach their full potential.
Current Status: Passed the House Education Committee on a bipartisan 10-3 vote and now heads to the House floor. Bill Jaeger, our Vice President of Early Childhood Initiatives, testified in support of the bill.
Summary: A high quality, nurturing environment in the early school years unlocks the potential of all of our children to learn about themselves and the world. Currently, too few children are on track for success by the end of third grade. There are many reasons for this, but one is that exclusionary school discipline based on infractions often unrelated to safety push thousands of children out of the building at a time when school can have the greatest impact. This bill would update statute to offer better guidance to administrators regarding out-of-school suspensions & expulsions for young children. For children in Colorado Preschool Program and Preschool Special Education classrooms (typically 3- & 4-year olds) and children in grades Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd, the bill ensures that out-of-school suspensions for young children address ongoing safety concerns and are developmentally appropriate. The bill does not affect statute governing in-school suspensions or classroom removals. The bill also reinforces the partnership between parents and schools in determining if a child has an unidentified disability when safety or behavioral issues arise and clarifies that eligibility regarding prevention, early intervention, and support services for expelled and at-risk students includes the early elementary grades.
Position: The Children’s Campaign strongly supports this bill. School success by end of third grade is a powerful predictor of later academic and life outcomes, including graduation. Currently, too few children, especially Black, Latino, Native American, and children with disabilities, are on track for success by the end of third grade. There are many reasons for this, but one is that exclusionary school discipline based on infractions often unrelated to safety push thousands of children, disproportionately boys, Black children, Latino boys, and children with disabilities, out of the building at a time when school can have the greatest impact. We know that investments in early development pay huge dividends in preventing and closing opportunity gaps. Yet research shows that practices like out-of-school suspension and expulsion are currently widening the education equity gap. In the early years of rapid brain development, we need thoughtful discipline policies that help children unlock their potential. Unfortunately, in current law the same categories for exclusionary discipline that exist for an 18-year-old also exist for a 5-year-old. By focusing on alternatives to suspension and expulsion for non-threatening behavior for very young children, we have an opportunity to address the root causes of a child’s actions. This is a missed opportunity when a young child is sent out of the school building.
Current Status: Passed the House Education Committee on a bipartisan 8-5 vote and passed on a 2nd reading voice vote on the House floor. It now awaits a 3rd reading vote in the House.
Summary: The bill authorizes a school district, board of cooperative services, or institute charter high school (local education provider) to grant a high school diploma endorsement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to students who demonstrate mastery in STEM. To obtain the endorsement, a student must complete the high school graduation requirements at a high level of proficiency, complete 12 credit hours in STEM courses, achieve a minimum score specified in the bill on one of several specified mathematics assessments, and successfully complete a final capstone project. To successfully complete the capstone project, the student must achieve a high proficiency level of mastery, as set by the local education provider, for each of the competencies specified in the bill. The local education provider is required to work with STEM-related business and industrial leaders and institutions of higher education in setting the high proficiency levels of mastery. The local education provider must annually notify students and their parents beginning in sixth grade of the requirements for obtaining a STEM diploma endorsement.
Position: The Colorado Children’s Campaign supports this bill. STEM jobs are projected to grow by 24 percent before 2024, and Colorado is one of the top states for the most entry-level STEM jobs. The diploma endorsement is an additional way for students to demonstrate course completion and mastery of skills and knowledge that are valuable for the workforce. Colorado students deserve the opportunity to be recognized by prospective postsecondary schools and employers for their STEM expertise.
Current Status: Passed unanimously in the House Education Committee and now heads to the House floor for debate
Summary: This bill requires health benefit plans that provide contraception coverage to reimburse providers for initially dispensing a three-month supply of prescription contraceptives and subsequently for dispensing a 12-month supply of the same prescription contraceptive to the insured person.
Position: The Children’s Campaign supports this bill. There is significant evidence that this policy, providing easier access to contraceptives, reduces unintended pregnancies, which allows women to finish their educations and become financially secure before starting a family, thereby helping to reduce the risks of poverty for kids.
Current Status: The bill passed on a 2nd reading voice vote in the House and is now awaiting a vote on 3rd reading.