Editor’s note: This represents the opinion of The Denver Post editorial board, which is separate from the paper’s news operation.
The Denver Post editorial board would like to see what Joyce Rankin can do to push elementary school literacy with another term on the state Board of Education. Rankin, a Republican from Carbondale, has represented the 3rd Congressional District on the board since 2015.
The powers of the board are limited in Colorado where local school districts are rightfully given most control over their curriculum and programs, but one thing the board does have control over is the implementation of state laws like Colorado’s READ Act.
The READ Act was passed in 2012 (Rankin’s husband sponsored a recent revision of the bill in the General Assembly). It requires benchmark testing of students in preschool through third grade to assess literacy skills, with a goal that all students will be reading by third grade.
“The science of teaching reading is so important at all grade levels,” Rankin said. “Right now, the law says K-3, the teachers must learn … the science of teaching reading. My job is not done yet. I want to watch that move forward.”
Rankin shared our dismay at a report that one of Colorado’s largest teacher colleges wasn’t graduating students with the science-based reading teaching skills required in the READ Act.
“We can’t afford in this state to let them get out of college and not know how to teach it and then have to retrain them. Having higher education be partners in this is very important,” Rankin said. “A lot of the professors there also need to be trained in what the science of teaching reading.”
Rankin said the board is going to have to consider taking the accreditation of colleges that don’t update their curriculum so teachers are prepared to teach reading. We agree. School districts should not be wasting valuable time and resources to re-teach newly graduated teachers the science of reading.
Among its limited powers, one of the most important roles of the state Board of Education is holding schools accountable for poor performance. There are a handful of schools and school districts that have finally – after years of kicking the accountability can down the road – reached the point where the board is supposed to intervene.
We think intervening on behalf of children when all else has failed to improve a district or school is a fundamental duty of the board and we’ve been pleased with Rankin’s approach to these matters. She’s pushed for districts to take drastic measures.
Rankin is facing Mayling Simpson, a Democrat from Steamboat Springs. Simpson’s resume is most impressive in that she has worked with the World Health Organization on health and sanitation matters in international schools. In this moment of a pandemic, her expertise might be useful to a board that hasn’t offered much assistance to schools.
However, we were disappointed with Simpson’s overall grasp of the role the board plays. Although we agree with her that Colorado’s school funding is inadequate, Rankin offered much more concrete solutions that can actually be acted upon by the board, including cutting grant programs that she said she believes are obsolete or have very poor outcomes.
Rankin is the better choice in this race.
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