Happy Colorado River Day

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Happy Colorado Day – yep today is the day that 93 years ago the Grand River was renamed the Colorado River. Today that river is America’s Hardest working river in the West– supplying drinking water to 36 million people, supporting 15% of the country’s agriculture and a $26 billion dollar outdoor recreation economy.

We organized an awesome Colorado River Day event in Denver today to highlight progress on water conservation and reuse and outline the work left to do to protect our rivers and our communities and meet future water needs.

The Colorado River flows through seven states and two countries. If we look basinwide, we’re in a crisis – from extreme droughts in California to dropping level of Lake Mead.Here in Colorado, we’re at a critical point as well. With the first state water plan being developed, we need new solutions and bring all the necessary stakeholders into the decision making process – from local elected to Latinos and conservationists to water providers.

(more…)

Corporate-Driven Education Reform Experiments Failing in Denver and Around the Country

I decided to add to my recent articles about the Colorado State Board of Education primary in Denver after reading an article today in Chalkbeat Colorado, a national non-profit education news agency. In the article "8 struggling schools opt in to Colorado's new turnaround network."  Ashley Jochim, research analyst at the Center on Reinventing Publication Education and one of the policy experts advising the states the following: 


                                                                                                                                                   Stacey Jocim, CRPE

"But Jochim said the resources will only be fruitful if principals are allowed to adopt the best ideas, even if they run counter to district policies – something that could be a challenge when it comes to personnel, budget, and curriculum. 

If Colorado stumbles, it won't be alone, Jochim said.

 "We're not in a place where anyone has done [a turnaround network] right,"* she said.

*Bold added for emphasis.                                                                                       Link:  http://tinyurl.com/okb5gdp

 


Since the beginning of the now-Senator Michael Bennet's term as DPS superintendent, Denver Public Schools administration has pursued an aggressive approach to public schools that includes firing and displacing teachers, closing schools, and privatizing public schools by putting control in the hand of private companies that use public and private funds to run those schools. Bennet hired Mr. Boasberg to be the COO of DPS by attracting him away from his position as the VP of Corporate Affiairs at a multi-billion dollar corporation (a background much like Bennet's). In addition Boasberg chooses to reside and Boulder and will not send his own children to the District he oversees.  

 

DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg                                Boasberg and Senator Michael Bennet

                              


What is Turnaround?

For a background on Turnaround, Turnaround is a status that is granted through US Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan's landmark education policy, Race to the Top. Much of Race to the Top included money to backfill the budgets of states, districts, and schools who were suffering devastating cuts during the Great Recession. Another component was school turnarounds to be funded under the School Improvement Grants. In order to receive funding for Turnarounds, a school must be in the lowest 5% of rankings on high-stakes standardized tests like CSAPTCAP, and PARCC. The federal government promised $5 billion dollars over 5 years. It just happens to be that these schools are primarily. 

 

                                                                                                                                       US Secretary of Education,                                                                                                                                                          Arnie Duncan

There are 4 Turnaround models in the federal guidelines:

  1. Turnaround Model – Replace the principal and rehire no more than 50% of the school’s staff, adopt a new governance structure, and implement a research-based vertically aligned instructional program. 
  2. Restart Model – Transfer control of or close and reopen a school under a School Management Organization (SMO) or school operator that has been selected through a rigorous review process. 
  3. School Closure – Close the school and enroll students in other, higher-achieving schools. 
  4. Transformation Model – Develop teacher/principal effectiveness (including replacing the principal), implement comprehensive instructional reform, extend learning and teacher planning time, create a community-orientation, and provide operating flexibility and sustained support

Link:  http://tinyurl.com/prel32m

 

Translated into normal  English:  

  1. Turnaround ModelFire or displace at least half of the staff and the principal.
  2. Restart Model – Create a charter or give the existing school a privately-run and publicly-funded charter school.
  3. School Closure – No need to explain. See Chicago Public Schools or DC Public Schools.  
  4. Transformation - Fire the principal and invest. Only model that doesn't fire and displace effective teachers. 

DPS most commonly chooses the Turnaround model. This is not the case nationwide. Once again, I want to reiterate the quote that "We're not in a place where anyone has done [a turnaround network] right."


What does this mean for DPS?

According to this Colorado Department of Education website, DPS has used federal Turnaround grants at least 14 times over 3 years, receiving millions in federal money. 

Link:  http://www.cde.state.co.us/fedprograms/tieredinterventiongrantresources

  1. Montbello High School (Close)
  2. North High School
  3. Noel Middle School
  4. Philips (Close)
  5. Rishel (Close)
  6. Lake
  7. Skyland (Close)
  8. Greenlee 
  9. Gilpin 
  10. Trevista 
  11. Charles M. Schenk 
  12. Smith
  13. West
  14. Bruce Randolph

 

The list above does not include schools that went through a similar process called "Redesign". These schools did not qualify for the School Improvement Grants, happened prior to SIG, or are outside of the CDE reporting. This following list may be missing additional schools, but the redesign and closed schools that I can recall outside of the SIG grants are:

  1. Remington Elementary (Closed)
  2. Smedley Elementary (Closed)
  3. Horace Mann Middle School
  4. Del Pueblo Elementary (Closed)
  5. Wyman Elementary (Closed)
  6. Gilpin
  7. Polaris (Closed)
  8. Manual High School (Twice:  resulting in many students, predominantly of color, never graduating high school)
  9. Kunsmiller Middle School
  10. Grant Middle School
  11. Oakland Elementary (Twice:  turned into SOAR Oakland charter school and then closed again)
  12. McGlone Elementary
  13. Green Valley Ranch Elementary
  14. Centennial K-8
  15. Fairmont K-8
  16. Ashley Elementary
  17. Smiley Middle School (Closed)
  18. Kepner Middle School (Coming in 2015-2016)

 

Denver Public Schools currently has two Turnaround networks of schools managed by their own Instruction Superindent, Deputy Superintendent, and support staff. The current networks are the West Denver Network (WDN) and the Denver Summit Schools Network (DSSN). They are in process of establishing a new turnaround network including Cheltenham Elementary, Columbine Elementary, Fairview Elementary, and Valverde Elementary. This network is flagged for Redesign or Turnaround if improvement is not made soon.  

 

 

DPS has already redesigned or turned around 17 schools on its own and 14 more with the support federal money to aid their programs. This makes 31 schools in Denver where students were displaced, teachers and other staff were fired. 

 

What is the result?

 

The Achievement Gap Is Growing.

Denver Public Schools consists of 77% minority students. 58% of those students are Latino, and 14% Black. As the District administration continues to fail to address the achievement gap, it continues to fail the majority of Denver students. Furthermore, these schools all predominantly serve or served students of color. Two of Denver's iconic schools that successfully served African American students, Montbello and Manual High Schools, have been tinkered with with little success. DPS eventually shut down Montbello and is trying to decide what to do with Manual. Similar Turnarounds and closures are happening at Latino schools like West High School and Kepner Middle School. Tom Boasberg has even admitted that while the achievement gap is shrinking statewide, it is getting worse in Denver, 

"While we're seeing significant gains across all demographic groups, we are not seeing our gaps close and this is very concerning," Boasberg said. "As we move forward, clearly we need to improve the effectiveness of our efforts to close the achievement gaps."

Citation:  "Latino students in Colroado Slowly closing gaps on achievement tests." Denver Post

 

​​Articles:

 

Massive Layoffs and Firings of Effective Teachers.

The vast majority of these schools implemented a process that either shuttered the school or required the staff to reapply for their jobs despite positive performance evaluations. The district is then able to displace or layoff teachers without any cause when they had been performing effectively. 

Articles

 

Fewer Teachers of Color in Denver Schools

  • It is a well-known fact that Denver Public Schools is losing more teachers of color than they are attracting. ​According to Colorado Public Radio reported Jenny Brundin in an article in February 2014, only 4% of teachers in Denver are black while 14% of the student body is black. The gap worsens with Latinos with a 17% Latino teachers and 58% Latino students. Link – "Race Matters in the Classroom:  Why are all of my teachers white?http://www.cpr.org/news/story/race-matters-classroom-why-are-all-my-teachers-white

Articles:

 

Major Funding for Politicians (Democrats for Education Reform) and Republicans Who Support this Model. 

 

2009

2011

​​2013

 

Maybe this will help explain why the NEA's body of over 8,000 education employee delegates vote in support of a request to ask US Secretary of State Arnie Duncan to resign. School boards are getting more and more funding from national corporate and special interests that are working to privatize public education and bust teacher and other public employee unions (one of the strongest checks on corporations and Republicans). 

We are now seeing this in Douglas County, Jefferson County, Big Thompson School District, and District 12 as well. It is time to get educated and get organized to preserve one of the major pillars of American prosperity. 

Val Flores, Long-Time Educator, Rolls the Corporate Reformers With Grassroots in the D Primary for State Board of Ed

Despite the popular belief that money and endorsements win most campaigns, long-time educator and underdog, Val Flores, proved this wrong yesterday and won the Democratic primary for the State Board of Education District 1 seat. The 17.86% margin victory came last night despite a long list of Democratic establishment candidates and national money from Walton Family Foundation-funded non-profit, Education Reform Now. 

Primary Results:

Valentina 'Val' Flores         58.93%              22,412

Taggart Hansen                 41.07%             15,621

                                       Votes Cast         38,033

Source:  http://results.enr.clarityelections.com/CO/51557/134987/en/summary.html#

 

June 16 Secretary of State Report:  Total Raised by Candidates

Val Flores                  $16,936.00 

Taggert Hansen          $27,740.52

 

List of Taggert Hansen's Endorsers

  • Mayor Michael Hancock
  • Denver Post
  • Sen. Michael Johnston
  • State BOE District 1, Elaine Gantz-Berman
  • ​Barbara O'Brien
  • Mike Johnson
  • Happy Haynes
  • Teresa Pena
  • Gully Sanford
  • Dr. Sharon Bailey
  • Regis Groff
  • Michael Carrigan
  • ​Angela Williams
  • Lois Court
  • Beth McCann
  • Rosemary Rodriguez
  • Landri Taylor
  • Anne Rowe
  • Peter Groff
  • Mary Seawell
  • ​Bruce Hoyt

On top of that, Hansen had $70,000 kicked into the soft side by Democrats for Education Reform and ground support from corporate reformers Stand for Children. See more in my previous post at - http://coloradopols.com/diary/59638/taggert-hansen-and-dfer-puppets-to-wal-marts-campaign-to-privatize-public-educaiton-and-bust-unions

 

So why did Val win?

  • Was it because she is Latino?
  • Was it because she was a long time teacher?
  • Was it the Ph.D?
  • Was it the solid group of grassroots volunteers that propelled her through the county assembly and never stopped?
  • Was it the message?

By the title and my questions, I am sure you know what I think. Val had the right profile and the right experience. She also got financial support for teachers unions, but just enough to compete. Most importantly, however, she had a hardcore team of volunteers - something that DFER/astroturf candidates didn't have. On top of that, her message had appeal with Democratic primary goers.

What was Val's message?

Support excellence in teaching.  I’ve taught most of my life helping future teachers prepare for the classroom.  Every student deserves a quality teacher and every teacher deserves the support and respect of the community.  Young teachers need longer mentoring periods, including internships with experienced master teachers and in school teaching supervisors to ensure that they learn best practices and can apply these skills to the classroom. We need to continually use a range of evaluating support systems in the classroom and quickly provide teachers with feedback on how they can improve their skills and become effective teachers.  Research shows that keeping experienced teachers in the classroom is a far better and more economical practice, saving money in the long run.  Replacing experienced teachers is irresponsible, costly and harmful to our students.  The latest research studies show that it takes three to five years for most teachers to reach their stride in this profession.  We need to stop the ceaseless firing and opportunistic removal of experienced teachers in the Denver Public Schools and other districts across Colorado.  Ensuring every student has quality, experienced teachers is the first step to closing the achievement gap.

I oppose the corporatization and privatization of our public education system and high stakes testing.  These practices benefit vendors and major corporations – not our students.  We must ensure classroom time is quality learning time which gives every student the best chance possible to succeed.  We must put a stop to the radical privatization Douglas County has started and ensure other districts across the state do not follow suit.

Finally, we must support our free public schools and make sure that this beacon of democracy is not sold to the highest bidder on Wall Street.  Every child should have the right to attend their neighborhood public school."

It looks like the corporate education reformers are showing their cracks in Denver. While having a strong message on what is needed to improve public education, Val also effectively messaged what we don't want. Polling of the Democratic base in Denver has consistently shown that they oppose corporate influence in public education and they are resistant to high stakes testing. I just don't think that candidates have been so willing to explicitly state this until now. 

 

They also might be influence by pieces in the news over the last few years about:

Takeovers of other boards of education like JeffCo, DougCo, Adams 12, Big Thompson, and others.

What JeffCo School Board Is Doing Is Shameful http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_25367409/what-jeffco-school-board-is-doing-is-shameful

Plaintiffs:  Dougco voucher program thwarts constitution http://co.chalkbeat.org/2014/05/30/plaintiffs-dougco-voucher-program-thwarts-constitution/#.U6tUhfldWSo

Mass firings of teachers in Denver.

Colorado Teachers Challenge Mass Firings http://www.courthousenews.com/2014/02/03/65049.htm

Denver Public School teachers speak out against losing jobs http://www.denverpost.com/ci_23264782/denver-public-schools-teachers-speak-out-against-losing

The removal experienced teachers from the classroom in Denver.

Teachers Fight Back Against Denver Public Schools in Court http://www.westword.com/2014-04-10/news/teacher-lawsuit-against-dps/

Black Teachers Fired - http://www.blackagendareport.com/category/education-public-education/black-teachers-fired

The persistent achievement gap that is not being addressed by corporate reform.

At Denver flagship high school shocking achievment gaps http://co.chalkbeat.org/2014/04/08/at-denvers-flagship-high-school-shocking-achievement-gaps-and-small-steps-forward/

DPS: Segregation Now, Segregation Forever? http://blog.ednewscolorado.org/2011/05/16/dps-segregation-now-segregation-forever

 

There are many more things to say, but I think you all are more than ready to add some comments. Thanks for taking the time to read my post. 

 

LCV Releases New Ad Highlighting Koch Brothers’ Smear Campaign to Elect Cory Gardner

(Return fire – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The League of Conservation Voters today launched a new television ad in the Colorado Senate race calling out the Koch Brothers’ smear campaign to help elect Congressman Cory Gardner in November. The ad, “Smear,” starts running this week and is part of LCV’s $1 million dollar ad campaign highlighting Gardner’s Big Oil ties.  

“The Koch Brothers are steering a million dollars into misleading ads to buy one of their biggest allies a promotion to the Senate. But Cory Gardner and his oil billionaire backers will find that the facts are not for sale,” said Gene Karpinski, President of the League of Conservation Voters.

"The Koch Brothers smear campaign and their dirty money politics have no place in Colorado. Voters deserve to know Cory Gardner's record supporting subsidies and giveaways to Big Oil.  While Gardner caters to Big Oil and the Koch Brothers, Colorado voters and our environment lose," said Pete Maysmith, Executive Director of Conservation Colorado.
 

The ad highlights that the Koch Brothers have spent $1 million on “false” and “misleading” attack ads to help elect their ally to the Senate. Gardner has sided with Big Oil and the Koch Brothers by repeatedly voting  to keep giving billions in special taxpayer-funded subsidies to oil companies at a time of record profits for the industry. Documentation for the ad can be found here.

Gardner even signed a pledge on taxes that would protect billions in Big Oil subsidies. Despite their repeated claims to the contrary, the Koch Brothers and their front group, Americans for Prosperity, have worked to keep these oil industry giveaways on the books to pad their bottom line.   

Earlier this month, LCV added Gardner to their Dirty Dozen program and released their first television ad in the race, which reminded voters that Gardner has taken more than $450,000 in contributions from the oil and gas industry while repeatedly voting to protect their tax breaks, subsidies and giveaways.

Gardner’s voting record earned him a horrible 9% lifetime score on LCV’s National Environmental Scorecard. The non-partisan Scorecard is a nationally accepted yardstick used to rate members of Congress on environmental issues. Based on key environmental votes in the House and Senate, it is often used by the media to quickly describe a Member’s position. For more information, visit scorecard.lcv.org.

Your Epic Fail Could Cost You $18K Without Health Insurance. Get Covered.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Your Epic Fail Could Cost You $18K Without Health Insurance. Get Covered.

We’ve all done it … tried to dunk a basketball to show off to our friends, gotten overconfident and taken the double black diamond instead of our usual blue, or jogged over some black ice because we were running late.

Whether we were trying to show off or simply unaware of our surroundings, we’ve all likely experienced an absent-minded #FAIL. And too many of us choose not to get health insurance for the very same reason.

But the scary truth is, you could get hurt. And if you don’t have health insurance, getting hurt could cost you everything.

(more…)

A Few Words on HD13 and Levy’s Resignation

First of all, term limits are a horrible idea. But that's not what I'm here to discuss, so I one start to dig into all the reasons why. But I will address one of them. Term limits result in lawmakers going job-hunting before their time in office is over. 

The case in point is Rep. Claire Levy (D-HD13) who is leaving her seat in the State House at the end of October to take a position with the Colorado Center on Law and Policy. 

If she had stayed, the 2014 session would have been her last, so some might have trouble seeing the difference. 

But I think there is a big difference. And lawmakers who leave their post the year before they are term limited is one of the worst and most damaging elements of our state's system. 

And here is why:

Before Levy had announced she would be resigning, the race to replace her in the 2014 election had already begun. Two Dem candidates, Tad Kline (http://www.tadklineforhd13.org/) and KC Becker (http://kcbecker.org/) had already announced their intention to run for the seat next year. But that race, which would have been a spirited and interesting primary, decided by the voters in HD13, will now be decided by a couple dozen Dems on October 19th. If either of them is chosen by the vacancy committee, they will now be the incumbent when caucuses roll around and are unlikely to be challenged. And that isn't right. 

The person who serves in this seat for the next 8 years should be chosen during an election, not a back-room coronation. 

There is hope, though. Two additional candidates, George Clark and Zane Laubham, have expressed interest in filling the vacancy for the remaining 15 months of Levy's term, but have not declared candidacy for the 2014 race. The vacancy committee has the opportunity, here, to appoint someone who has no interest in keeping the seat for 2015, so that a legitimate election can still be held. 

I don't know anything about the candidates (another one of the down-sides of the vacancy process is a low amount of information), but if either Clark or Laubham are willing to commit to not running and they are reasonably qualified for the spot, I would encourage the vacancy committee to select that person and give the voters of HD13 an opportunity to choose their own representative through the normal election process. 

GOP Hijacks Slavery Resolution

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Remember when the GOP delayed action on a few dozen bills to delay action on Civil Unions? And remember when games like that got them kicked out of the majority office by the voters? And remember when a few of them said they'd learned their lesson?

Well, if you were paying attention yesterday morning, you would wonder if they even remember 2012. 

As Joe Hanel of the Durango Herald reports: Slavery resolution a tool in gun debate

In a sign of how much resistance Democrats can expect to their gun-control bills, House Republicans tried to derail a Democratic news conference by stalling on a resolution about the Emancipation Proclamation. 

Former Speaker of the House Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, wanted to amend the resolution by adding the full text of the document that led to the end of slavery. That led to a skirmish over parliamentary rules, with Speaker of the House Mark Ferrandino accusing Republicans of trying to stall and delay the news conference.

Republicans denied that they were purposely delaying the news conference, but a GOP member later admitted that was the strategy.

On the House floor, Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora, confronted House Minority Leader Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs.

“It’s the Emancipation Proclamation. This directly affected my family in North Carolina. It’s extremely insulting,” Melton said.

Stay classy, GOP.

Word is that both the Denver Post and the Colorado Statesman are going to have more detailed stories out in the next day or two. I, for one, can't wait to hear what they turned up. 

Chutzpah: GOP Senator blames GOP budget cuts for fewer cops

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Think Progress reports on Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina in today's gun control hearing in Washington. Speaking to the police chief of the city of Baltimore, Maryland:

GRAHAM: The point is, we have different perspectives on this. The reason I will oppose the legislation, Chief Johnston, is because i respect what your do as a lot — what you do as a law-enforcement officer. Has your budget been cut?

JOHNSON: Yes.

GRAHAM: Do you think it be cut in the future?

JOHNSON: I am optimistic that it is not.

GRAHAM: Well I hope your right, but I can tell people throughout this land, because of the fiscal state of affairs we have, there will be less [SIC] police officers, not more, over the next decade…I honest to god believe that if we arbitrarily “say nobody in this country can own a 10-round magazine in the future, the people who own them are the kind of people we’re trying to combat to begin with.” There can be a situation where a mother runs out of bullets because of something we do here.

(more…)

Republicans: we’re not the problem

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

If you were hoping Republicans might get the message after 2012's defeats and change course, I'm about to dash those hopes.

http://www.politico.com/story/2013/01/gop-leaders-insist-no-overhaul-needed-86757.html?hp=r4

The party’s main problem, dozens of Republican National Committee members argued in interviews over three days this week, is who delivers its message and how, not the message itself. Overwhelmingly they insisted that substantive policy changes aren’t the answer to last year’s losses.

Moderation, at least at this stage, is no virtue at the RNC.

“It’s not the platform of the party that’s the issue,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said Friday after being easily reelected to a second, two-year term. “In many cases, it’s how we communicate about it. It is a couple dumb things that people have said.” (JeffcoBlue emphasis)

A slide presented during a closed-press strategy session said that Mitt Romney might be president if he had won fewer than 400,000 more votes in key swing states.

“We don’t need a new pair of shoes; we just need to shine our shoes,” said West Virginia national committeewoman Melody Potter.

Fellow Democrats should be ecstatic if Republicans are already rationalizing away all of the problems 2012 revealed for them. The Republican Party's problem is much more than a "couple dumb things people have said," it is that they have become the party of people who say dumb things. Their shoes don't need a shine, their entire platform must adapt to the modern age, or die like other political movements that ended as anachonisms. For too many years, the GOP has won ideological battles whether or not they were in the majority. Now, they're running out of excuses as the consequences of their ideology show up everywhere.

But forget that. It's time for more denial…

Denver Nuggets Player Kenneth Faried Voices Support for Civil Unions in Colorado

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

fariedmoms

Denver Nuggets star player, Kenneth Faried, has made a video with his two moms voicing their support for civil unions in Colorado.

“Nobody can ever tell me I can’t have two mothers because I really do,” said Faried.

Faried’s two mothers, Carol and Waudda, have been together for eleven years. Waudda has lupus, and the protections of a civil union have helped Carol care for her partner through the ups and downs of life.

“Gay and lesbian couples share similar worries as everyone else, like taking care of a loved one in sickness and in health,” said Brad Clark, Executive Director of One Colorado, the lead organization advocating for passage of civil unions in Colorado. “The story of Kenneth’s mothers remind us why civil unions are an important part of building the security we all long for.”

Click here to thank Kenneth Faried and his moms for supporting civil unions.

(more…)

Colorado ASSET: What progressives need to know

I just got this email from ProgressNow Colorado. Excellent information:

coassetfacts.jpgToday, the “Colorado ASSET” bill, which will allowВ allВ qualified Colorado resident high school graduates to attend college at in-state tuition rates, is expected to pass its first test in the Colorado Senate Education Committee.

There is a great deal of misinformation being put out about this important legislation by opponents, and we as progressives have an obligation to help set the record straight. Here are some basic facts aboutВ Senate Bill 13-033: learn the truth, thenВ contact your Colorado Senator and urge them to SUPPORT this important bill.

The Facts About ASSET

The fact is, we have already invested thousands educating all of the children who will benefit from Senate Bill 13-033. We have invested in their K-12 education, and these students have responded by succeeding academically in Colorado schools. By providing a path to these bright students to continue their studies, all we’re doing is following through on an investmentВ we’ve already made.

Colorado has a constitutional obligation, backed by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, to provide a K-12 education to every child in our state regardless of their documentation or immigration status. It therefore makes no sense to create barriers for children who have demonstrated academic success in Colorado schools to completing their education. By making college an attainable goal for all Colorado students, ASSET will increase revenue for our cash-strapped institutions of higher education.

Remember, Colorado ASSET will only allow the children affected by the bill to pay in-state tuition at Colorado colleges and universities provided they can meet the following criteria:

  • The student must have already attended a Colorado public or private high school for a minimum of 3 years.
  • The student must have graduated from a public or private high school in Colorado, or received their general equivalency diploma (GED)–here in Colorado.

And of course, the student must meet all of the academic requirements and be admitted to a Colorado institution of higher education.

Many of the currently undocumented students who would benefit from Colorado ASSET are already working their way through the U.S. immigration system and are able to be legally employed. All other students who might benefit are required to seek lawful presence as soon as possible.

Please help us spread the truth about this important legislation.В Click here to send a message to your Colorado Senator right now, urging them to support the Colorado ASSET bill. And forward this message to all of your friends and neighbors so they can get the facts as well.

Thank you. This is legislation that we expect to pass with at leastВ someВ bipartisan support, but it’s critical that we as progressives do everything we can to educate our friends and neighbors, and dispel misinformation. We support Colorado ASSET because it’s the right thing to do, and the right thing for Colorado’s competitiveness in a global economy.

And working together, our great state is going to take this positive step.

Read the full text of the Colorado ASSET bill as introducedВ here.

Great idea! School security guard leaves gun in bathroom

Raw Story has a story that’s so funny it was almost a tragedy. It’s not the whole reply, but here’s one to mention when you debate your gun nut relative next time:

A prosecutor in Lapeer, Michigan says, “No harm, no foul,” after a charter school took the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) advice and hired a armed security guard who promptly left his handgun unattended in a student bathroom.

Chatfield School co-directors Matt Young and Bill Kraly announced last week that they had hired retired Lapeer County Sheriff’s Dept. firearms instructor Clark Arnold as a security guard in response to the December mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

[...]

Wednesday, the school had admitted to The Flint Journal that the retired firearms instructor had made a “made a breach in security protocol” and left his unloaded handgun unattended in the school restroom “for a few moments.”

“The school has put additional security procedures in place that follow local law enforcement practices and guidelines,” a statement from Young said. “At no time was any student involved in this breach of protocol. We will continue to work on improving school security.”

Seven state GOP Senators voted against civility? What’s up with that?

(“Civility,” apparently, is for wussies – promoted by Colorado Pols)



On Tuesday, the Colorado Senate passed a resolution:

That we, the members of the Colorado General Assembly, agree to conduct ourselves at all times in a manner so as to reflect credit on the Colorado General Assembly and its two houses and to inspire the confidence, respect, and trust of the public in the laws, the Colorado General Assembly, and democratic government.

There was more to it, and you can read it here, but you get the idea.

You’d think a “no” vote by seven Republican Senators, including Senate Minority Leader Cadman, would catch the attention of the Capitol press corps.

What’s up with a no vote on a bipartisan civility resolution?

The No’s were: Scheffel, Baumgardner, Brophy, Cadman, Crowder, Grantham, and Lambert.

YES 28 NO 7 EXCUSED 0 ABSENT 0

Aguilar Y Guzman Y Kefalas Y Roberts Y Balmer Y Harvey Y

Kerr Y Scheffel N Baumgardner N Heath Y King Y Schwartz Y

Brophy N Hill Y Lambert N Steadman Y

Cadman N Hodge Y Lundberg Y Tochtrop Y

Carroll Y Hudak Y Marble Y Todd Y

Crowder N Jahn Y Newell Y Ulibarri Y

Giron Y Johnston Y Nicholson Y President Y

Grantham N Jones Y Renfroe Y

CO GOP Chair Ryan Call to be Challenged by DougCo GOP Chair Baisley

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)



When it comes to Ryan Call, Ken Clark and Jason Worley are not impressed.

In the past week on Grassroots Radio Colorado (airing weekdays from 5 to 7 p.m. on KLZ 560 AM), show hosts Worley and Clark have been heard to call for current GOP State Party Chairperson Call to own up to his responsibility for the devastating November election losses “like a man”, and step down from his leadership position.

Last Friday on Grassroots, Arapahoe County Tea Party Chair Randy Corporon was filling in as guest host, as he often does.  Worley and Clark were on a “top secret” special assignment.  The guests that day, freshman State Representative Justin Everett (HD-22) and John Ransom from Townhall.com/Finance pleaded with Corporon to throw his hat into the race for the GOP Chairmanship.  Their enthusiastic request was modestly evaded.

And then yesterday, Mark Baisley, Douglas County GOP Chair, appeared on Grassroots to announce his candidacy for the position.

Ryan Call probably isn’t too worried.

He has endorsements from approximately half of the current County GOP Committees that will eventually vote to decide who leads the state party, as well as support from GOP notables such as AG John Suthers, and Rep. Cory Gardner.

Call’s ascendency two years ago came in a firestorm of name calling and finger pointing around previous Chairman Dick Wadhams, who withdrew his candidacy for reelection after the debacle that was The McInnis-Maes-Tancredo Show and Ken Buck’s losing challenge to Democrat Michael Bennet’s senate seat.  

Stating his frustration with trying to herd the un-herdable cats of Colorado’s GOP, Wadhams said in a recent Lynn Bartels blog post for the Denver newspaper’s political blog, The Spot (January 11, 2013) “he was “tired of the nuts who have no grasp of what the state party’s role is.”

In the same column, Bartels quoted Wadhams pointing to fundraising as another piece of the fallout from his decision to withdraw. He said donors were reluctant to give money to a GOP that is “run by an idiot.”  Wadhams said that Call was the donors’ pick for the CO leadership position.

The “idiot” refered to in Wadham’s quote is most likely Senator Ted Harvey, who was challenging Call at the time with support from liberty and grassroots groups in the GOP.  

Could the same divisive scenario be setting up for this spring’s GOP Chair election?  Well, Baisley is no Ted Harvey, although they appear pretty similar on paper.

Worley and Clark were happy to give Baisley a soapbox to announce his candidacy, as they have with other successful GOP candidates.  But they didn’t hold back with their criticism of Call, who they said runs a party that’s not all too inviting to liberty groups’ participation.  Worley points out that he and Call went to high school together, but they still butt heads.

Callers to Grassroots Radio last Friday echoed some of Wadhams’ concerns from 2011, namely the danger of splitting a minority Party whose wounds continue to weep along ideological fractures, and the proven abilities of a candidate to deliver in the Chairmanship’s two biggest responsibilities:  winning elections and fundraising.

Baisley addressed both concerns.

He asserted his longstanding friendship with Ryan Call and said they have always worked well together.  He’s offering to unite the all who believe in limited government with his “model of respect,”  where everyone is invited to share their talents in defeating the Dems – apparently to include  ”nuts” and “idiots.”

As proof of his capabilities, Baisley cited his success in organizing over 3,000 Douglas County volunteers, activitating a localized ground game for getting out the vote, and the notable coup of electing seven conservatives to the Douglas County School Board which eventually tossed the American Federation of Teachers union from the district.

As far as fundraising, Baisley reduced its importance as secondary to the ground game, but noted his successes, just the same.  On the finance committee during Bruce Benson’s tenure ten years ago as leader of the Colorado GOP, he helped raise more than $10 million for the Party.  In Douglas County this election cycle, enough funds were generated to cover all GOTV costs, max out a contribution to Mike Coffman’s congressional campaign, while filling in gaps in other legislative races, he said.

Addressing Ryan Call’s claim of early support from the counties, Worley and Clark enthusiastically point out that new leadership in the counties committees could undermine some of those initial endorsements.

Then  Baisley said he had heard from some county leaders, who said if they’d known Baisley was running for the Chair, they would never have endorsed Call.   They promised Baisley they wouldn’t be seen campaigning actively for Call.

It all sounds very encouraging for Baisley, if you can believe Grassroots Radio.

But can he herd cats?

Big Oil’s paying the bills at Colo. School of Mines oil shale research center

Dr. Jeremy Boak, Director of the Center for Oil Shale Technology and Research (COSTAR) has been working hard this past year, trying to downplay fears about oil shale’s impact on western water supplies. And, while Dr. Boak has plenty to say, he fails to mention that the companies experimenting with oil shale fund his program.

This sort of corporate sponsorship for academics isn’t new, but it’s the sort of thing people should know when considering his opinions. After all, the saying “don’t bite the hand that feeds” could be seen to apply here.

COSTAR is a program at Colorado School of Mines, which was started in 2008 with funding from three oil companies – ExxonMobil, Shell and Total Exploration and Production.

According to a Colorado School of Mines press release, COSTAR is a $900,000 per year research center.

COSTAR’s website lists corporate money first among its funding sources. So, we think Dr. Boak has a pretty strong incentive to see oil shale speculation and experimentation continue.

The Guardian published a story last week on a similar situation, but with fracking instead of oil shale. According to the article, the gas industry has been buying up academic research so that data will show only the benefits of hydraulic fracturing, not the risks. After all, academic institutions have long been trusted sources for independent, third party research. Some might say, it’s hard to remain independent when the industries institutions studying are paying their bills.

The Guardian calls it “frackademia,” and sometimes the result of these relationships can be pretty obvious. Take this example:

Dr. Charles “Chip” Groat took early retirement from the University of Texas at Austin after his financial ties to the industry became public. The researcher, whose study had concluded that there is “no link between hydraulic fracturing and water contamination”, sits on the board of Plains Exploration and Production Company, a Houston-based fracker. Groat has received over $2m in cash and stock options from the company since 2007.

We don’t know what, if any, financial ties Dr. Boak has to oil shale companies, other than that they subsidize his paycheck as Director of COSTAR. In 2012, Dr. Boak spoke at an API-sponsored briefing on oil shale in Washington, D.C. Was he paid to appear and speak there? Who paid for his plane ticket or hotel room? Did the Colorado School of Mines have to foot the bill for his API press conference appearance? These are questions only Dr. Boak can answer, and maybe he should.

At the very least, the fact that Dr. Boak’s income is funded by oil companies should be mentioned whenever he’s quoted, and he shouldn’t be listed as an “academic” source. When Dr. Boak gives his opinion, he’s cashing a check made possible by the same companies promoting oil shale.