Monday, July 20, 2009



Concluding the National Governor Association's Annual Meeting, Gov. Bill Ritter today was named the new chair of the NGA's Education, Early Childhood and Workforce Committee.


The appointment acknowledges the education reforms Gov. Ritter has initiated since taking office in 2007, when he challenged educators to help cut the state's dropout rate and achievement gap in half and double the number of college degrees earned by Coloradans over the next 10 years.


"Working together with the state's education community, Colorado is now seen as a national model for reform," Gov. Ritter said. "I look forward to chairing the NGA'S Education Committee and helping to lead the national dialogue over education reform. This will further our efforts to help students achieve their God-given potential, fulfill their aspirations and make the most of the opportunities that a quality education provides. The strength of our economy and the quality of our communities depends on education systems that work."


Click here to listen to Gov. Ritter discuss the new committee chairmanship and other developments from this weekend's National Governor's Association Annual Meeting.


With Gov. Ritter as the new chair, the NGA'S Education, Early Childhood and Workforce Committee will address issues such as early childhood education, P-16 (P-20) system alignment and system accountability. Gov. Ritter will play a role in setting and presiding over the committees work and serve as a national spokesman for all governors and the NGA on topics related to education and workforce development.
In light of the unprecedented attention currently being placed on meaningful cross-system education reform and the impending reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind), Governor Ritter assumes the chairmanship during a time that, from an education perspective, will prove to be among the most noteworthy in the history of the United States


The current issue of Education Week newspaper reports that Gov. Ritter-initiated reforms will help the state's chances of securing federalRace to the Top grant funding, which will allow Colorado to accelerate improvements to classroom education.


"Many policy experts say Colorado, with its education-reform-oriented governor and pro-charter-school legislation, is among the best-positioned to win some of the money," the newspaper says. "Colorado beefed up its academic standards and accountability law in 2008, has strong charter school legislation, an active P-20 Council linking education from preschool through graduate study, and districts with teacher merit-pay systems."


Since taking office in 2007, Gov. Ritter and Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien have:


·         Established a statewide P-20 Education Coordinating Council, which has issued significant education reform recommendations, the majority of which are now being implemented. Lt. Gov. O'Brien co-chairs the Council.


·         Delivered on a commitment to get children off to a smart start by expanding full-day kindergarten and high-quality preschool.


·         Put Colorado on a path to become one of the first states in the nation to fully align its academic policies from preschool through K-12 and higher education, including content standards and assessments (the Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids [CAP4K]).


·         Established what is believed to be the nation's first publicly funded grant program to help local school districts develop innovative merit-pay plans for teachers.


·         Created the Colorado Counselor Corps, deploying more than 75 new college counselors into low-income high schools to help reduce the dropout rate and increase participation in postsecondary education.


·         Strengthened accountability by signing legislation that enables the state to report student academic growth as well as achievement.


·         Provided public schools with an option to receive greater autonomy from state and district regulations in order to create more innovate learning environments.


·         Created what is believed to be the nation's first statewide, five-year dual-degree program, allowing high school students to simultaneously earn their diploma and a community college degree.


·         Enacted several of the nation's most robust data-measurement policies for students and teachers so we can determine what works and what doesn't.


·         Helped create the Colorado STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Network, a statewide organization of community-based science and math educators, business leaders, policymakers, and community supporters.


·         Promoted students' ability to pursue degrees with on-line studies, in part by serving on the Western Governors University board of trustees.


·         Signed into law the Building Excellent Schools Today Act, which will provide nearly $1 billion for school construction projects around the state.