A few education bills designed to help Coloradians return to work and earn their degrees were passed by the state’s General Assembly earlier this month.
Supporters of the measures say the legislation, which will allow funding for programs under the Colorado Department of Higher Education, relates to economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic – when individuals have lost their jobs or have not been able to continue their post-secondary education.
“They are investing in Coloradans to help them graduate or get accredited post-secondary education and training,” said State Senator Barbara Kirkmeyer, who represents Weld County and was a major sponsor of the law projects. âThey encourage kids to finish high school because they see an opportunity to advance their education and get training for a career.
Two bills related to Kindergarten to Grade 12 were also passed during the 2021 regular legislative session. With lead sponsorship from State Representative Mary Young de Greeley, the bills focus on transparency literacy and education programs; and bullying prevention.
The transparency of the literacy program is Senate Bill 2021-151, and it amends the Colorado READ Act to require each school district to provide more detailed information on its website “to increase the visibility of its reading program “Young said.
“This will allow parents to have a better understanding of the program they are using, and it forces the district to report students who have READ plans.” And it will also indicate how many have completed the READ plans, âshe added.
The Colorado Reading Act for Academic Development (Colorado Reading Act) was passed by the Colorado legislature in 2012, giving the state the structure and resources necessary for children to read at school level. by the time they enter fourth grade, according to the Colorado Department of Education.
Internal Bill 2021-1221, known as Bullying Prevention and School Education, requires the Department of Education to use a stakeholder process when updating the model education and bullying prevention policy (model policy). This process should include parents of students who have been bullied, according to information in the bill.
At a minimum, the model policy should clearly differentiate conflict and bullying and differentiate between harassment and bullying and clarify the role of cyberbullying during online education, which can occur on or outside of school “, indicates the bill.
Young called the bill “excellent policy,” because when the CDE developed its bullying policy, it used analysis and information from the US Department of Education with 11 key elements.
“We are now requiring districts to include reports on bullying in the annual discipline and conduct reports,” Young said. “We don’t know where the bullying was occurring and whether the efforts reduced the bullying.”
Under Kirkmeyer’s sponsored bills, more than $ 66 million is allocated to the Department of Higher Education for Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI) programs. COSI’s goal “is to combine tuition aid and support so that every Colorado student has affordable access to post-secondary opportunities and can earn a degree or certificate to enter the marketplace. work, âaccording to the program’s web page.
Officially, the bills are known as the House Bill 2021-1330 and the Senate Bill 2021-232.
HB21-1330, titled Higher Education Student Success, requires $ 51.5 million in funding for programs “to encourage students to re-enroll and earn their post-secondary degrees and diplomas, and for a grants program to help students to complete applications for financial assistance â, according to the summary of the invoice.
Senate Bill 2021-232 is known as the Displaced Workers Grant and this will allocate $ 15 million to grants to displaced workers through COSI. The program supports workers whose incomes have been negatively affected by COVID-19, according to the context of the bill. Support includes and can take the form of scholarships, counseling, connection and labor market transition services.
Participating higher education institutions include: Arapahoe Community College, Colorado Mountain College, Colorado Mesa University, Community College of Aurora, Community College of Denver, and Metropolitan State University.
COSI Executive Director Shelley Banker said the Colorado Commission on Higher Education released a strategic plan in late 2017 for 66% of Coloradians to have a degree or diploma by 2025. Banker said that around 700,000 Coloradians have now completed their university studies but do not have a diploma.
âI think especially when you look at HB-1330, Colorado, you have people with a college degree and no degree and that’s usually an adult population,â Banker said. âIt could be someone who has graduated from post-secondary education and maybe they could move to another job that isn’t being eliminated and have a more stable job.
Banker said on Senate Bill 232 that the money for the displaced worker grant will come from the more than $ 3.8 billion Colorado will receive from the US bailout, also known as the stimulus package. COVID-19.
The focus and the back-to-work component of the bill are aimed at enabling the return of people who have started schooling or were unemployed during the pandemic. Banker said the number of unemployed during the pandemic reached 450,000.
“Those who are made redundant or put on leave, it helps them develop, develop and get back into the field they need,” Banker said.