Sunday, February 24, 2008


 WASHINGTON — Gov. Bill Ritter today presented details of his sweeping education-reform plan to the National Governors Association during the organization's annual winter meeting in Washington D.C.
"We all know the key to strengthening our economies, our communities and our quality of life lies with fundamentally reforming our education systems," Gov. Ritter told the NGA's Education, Early Childhood and Workforce Committee. "The investments we make in education will reap the biggest dividends and keep America from losing its competitive edge in the 21st Century global marketplace."
"Though our Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids, we will be creating rigorous curricula across all grade levels from pre-school to post-secondary," Gov. Ritter said. "We will improve student learning and begin to truly measure student proficiency instead of focusing on meaningless 'seat time' requirements."
Gov. Ritter also outlined several of the 15 recommendations from his P-20 Education Council, including eliminating the current waiting list for at-risk children seeking access to the Colorado Preschool Program, expanding full-day kindergarten to 22,000 more children statewide, and creating a Colorado Counselor Corps to keep students from dropping out of high school.
Also today, Gov. Ritter:
  • Presented Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne with a letter concerning the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel (see attachment). Gov. Ritter also impressed upon Secretary Kempthorne the need to quickly craft a multi-jurisdictional pine-beetle response plan that involves federal, state and local agencies. As dead trees fall over the next three to five years, the fire danger will grow even greater, Gov. Ritter said.
  • Joined other governors demanding strong federal action to address the mortgage crisis sweeping the nation. Colorado has experienced two consecutive years of record foreclosures, including a 40 percent increase in 2007 from the year before and a 45 percent increase in actual foreclosure sales.


"In Colorado, we're attacking this challenge as aggressively as possible to keep more people from losing their homes and to prevent the American Dream of homeownership from becoming the American Nightmare," Gov. Ritter said. "We enacted a package of legislation last year that is now considered a national model, and our Colorado Foreclosure Hotline has led to positive outcomes for thousands of homeowners across the state."
On Monday, Gov. Ritter and the nation's governors will meet with President Bush. Among the issues expected to be discussed will be pending cuts in federal funding to Medicaid, which would have severe fiscal implications for Colorado's safety-net health care providers.