DENVER Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia is raising tens of millions of dollars to pay for a new teacher evaluation system that will replace the current seniority system in public schools, he said Thursday.
Garcia, who also serves as head of the Department of Higher Education, announced an education agenda Thursday that ranges from third-grade literacy to college preparedness.
Last year, the Legislature adopted a new teacher tenure system after an emotional debate that split Democrats, some of whom sided with the teachers union in favor of the current system. But they lost out to Republicans and other Democrats, who want to give teachers job protections only if students in their classroom show academic growth.
The most poorly performing teachers could be fired.
The bill passed, but the Legislature did not set aside money to fund the new system of training and testing, Garcia said.
And we know its going to cost money in fact, its going to cost tens of millions of dollars the next four years, if were to be successful, Garcia said.
Garcia has approached state and national donors, and he expects them to make announcements soon. He did not identify the potential donors.
The response so far has been not just positive, but overwhelming, he said.
Thanks to his second job as higher education chief, Garcia is poised to be an unusually influential lieutenant governor. As his overriding goal, he wants to increase the number of graduates from Colorado colleges.
A third of the states college students need to take remedial courses, and Garcia thinks the solution starts as far back as third grade. Too many young students cant read, he said.
All educators agree that it is critically important we not move students from third grade to fourth until they have mastered the ability to read, Garcia said.
Garcia said he was not proposing a ban on social promotion of young students. He had few details on his plan to improve third-grade reading, but he said he and his deputies would visit schools across the state to find out how to improve third-grade education. Parents and community groups will have to get more involved, he said.
Fort Lewis College President Dene Thomas attended Garcias announcement, and she said she appreciated his focus on education at all levels and community involvement.
Hes absolutely right. My mother was an elementary teacher. Those first three grades are important to get community support, Thomas said.
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