Thursday, August 14, 2008


Gov. Bill Ritter and a bipartisan group of political and businesses officials joined former three-term Gov. Roy Romer today to launch the "Ed in '08/Strong American Schools" initiative in Colorado, challenging the nation's leaders to make education reform a top priority this election year.  
Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien, former Gov. Richard Lamm, former U.S. Sen. and University of Colorado President Hank Brown,  Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper , state Sens. Nancy Spence and Chris Romer, state Rep. Rob Witwer, the Colorado State Board of Education and Education Commissioner Dwight Jones were among those who gathered on the West Steps of the State Capitol to kick off the public awareness campaign.
The Strong American Schools campaign – chaired by former Gov. Romer, who also served as superintendent of the Los Angeles UnifiedSchool District – urges the nation's leaders to embrace three common sense solutions to education reform: rigorous standards, effective teachers in every classroom, and more time and support for student learning.
"Every leader understands the urgent need for public education reform," Gov. Ritter said. "We need a thoughtful debate from our nation's leaders about how we can provide every student in Colorado, and across America, with the opportunity to attend a world-class school.  Education is just as important as decreasing our dependence on foreign oil, addressing the skyrocketing costs of health care and dealing with climate change. It is time that all of America's leaders make education a top domestic priority."
In Denver, a mere 46 percent of ninth-graders will graduate from high school on time. And across Colorado, those who do graduate from high school are often unprepared for the rigors of college. Nearly one-third of college freshmen in Colorado require remedial training.
"In addition to the thousands of students who won't graduate from high school next spring, thousands more will graduate unprepared for life after high school," Romer said. "They will not be ready for work, and they will not be ready for life. Being above average is not good enough, especially when standards in America's schools are well below the average academic standards in other industrialized countries."
"Join us and take action to improve our schools," said Lamm. "A strong Colorado depends on strong public schools.  And, a strongAmerica depends on well-educated students and high-performing schools. We should strive for gold when it comes to our schools, the same way we strive for gold medals at the Olympics."
"As the former President of the University of Colorado, I think it is vital that we prepare American youth for the unique challenges facing them in college and in an increasingly global economy," said Brown. "America's college completion rate is deplorably low. Only about half of students who enroll in four-year colleges after high school manage to earn a bachelor's degree within six years.  And, more than one-third of college freshmen have to take remedial classes to learn what they should have learned in high school. We must make it a priority to ensure that Colorado students receive a world-class public education."
"Charles Dickens wrote that we should fear the boy named Ignorance because on his brow is written doom," Lt. Gov. O'Brien said. "If we can't erase that doom through our education system, I fear for our country's future."
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