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Protect Our Classrooms: What you need to know about Colorado education legislation in 2022


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It is a perilous time for education in America. Parents, students, and those that work in schools are still processing the trauma of COVID. Books long thought to be staples of the American canon are being banned. Basic diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives are under fire. It seems that we hear of a new school shooting almost daily at this point. It is a perilous time for education all across the country and Colorado is no different. The proverbial wolves are at the door. 

This means that now more than ever, we must protect and improve education through solid legislation put through by legislators that care about the well-being of our children and the future of our state. These children will grow to inherit this country. They are the ones that can help mold it, that can take the future in their hands like clay and form it into something beautiful. 

It can be difficult keeping up with everything going on regarding education legislation in Colorado. We put this overview together to help you stay informed about the most important pieces of Colorado education legislature in 2022 and the legislators that sponsor them.


Education Committee

Colorado’s House education committee consists of 9 representatives. The committee considers all issues regarding public K-12 schooling as well as higher education. This includes funding and school accountability for public K-12 schools and tuition, financial aid, and administrative governance for higher education. We looked into each of the committee’s members’ actions this year and graded them in order to understand their values and what they are doing to help or hinder education in Colorado. 

Barbara McLachlan (Chair) – Grade: A

“It is safe to say that McLachlan believes in education and is fighting to make schools safe environments for the students.”

Barbara McLachlan is the chair of the Colorado House education committee. A Democrat elected in 2016 and native Coloradan, she represents District 59, which covers Archuleta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, La Plata, Ouray, San Juan counties. In 2022, she has sponsored 16 bills that have become laws, 7 of which greatly benefit Colorado schools. These include HB22-1052, which provides behavioral crisis services to students and school-age people. Also notable is HB22-1390, which greatly increases public school funding in the interest of helping kids with disabilities like dyslexia, removing outdated racist depictions of Native Americans as school mascots, increasing emotional health support, and developing strong teacher recruitment programs, among many other benefits. It is safe to say that McLachlan believes in education and is fighting to make schools safe environments for the students. Furthermore, she has also sponsored bills that have become laws this year that benefit infrastructure, transportation, and businesses.

Mary Young (Vice Chair) – Grade: A-

“… she has sponsored 3 education bills that have passed and become law this year, mostly helping the disabled and those with learning disabilities.”

Mary Young is the vice chair of the committee and representative of District 50 which covers Weld County. She is a former special education teacher and school psychologist that worked in education for almost 50 years. A Democrat that took office in 2019, she has sponsored 3 education bills that have passed and become law this year, mostly helping the disabled and those with learning disabilities. HB22-1107 is one of these. It establishes a grant program that creates inclusive higher learning programs for individuals with learning or developmental disabilites. There is also HB22-1294 that promotes special education in charter schools by giving enrollment preference to disabled children. Young’s extensive education background and experience with special education and school psychiatry informs her decisions as a lawmaker, decisions which make the lives of disabled kids and their families better.

Mark Baisley – Grade: D-

“Not exactly the top of the class.”

Mark Baisley is the representative of District 39 covering Douglas and Teller Counties. A Republican businessman and engineer, Baisley was elected in 2019 and is the former Vice Chair of the Republican Party of Colorado. Of the 7 bills he has sponsored this year, only 3 have passed and not a single one of them related to education. Baisley instead focuses his efforts on bills such as HB22-1048 which creates and distributes an “In God We Trust” license plate. He also tried to pass HB22-1144, which would allow an employee of a business to claim that they have achieved “natural immunity” and therefore will not have to take COVID tests or any precautions of any kind. Not exactly the top of the class.

Yadira Caraveo – Grade: C

“She supports good causes but just hasn’t focused on education this year.”

Yadira Caraveo is the representative of District 31 which covers Adams County. Caraveo is a pediatrician, a Democrat, and was elected in 2018. She has sponsored 6 bills this year, with four being made law. However, none of them have to do with education. This year, she has focused more on healthcare and environmental issues. Her bill HB22-1313 deals with agricultural workers housing during a global pandemic such as COVID. HB22-1325 is another of hers and it makes sure that primary care providers are incentivised to accept high-risk patients as well as creates rules for patients to use alternative methods to pay their bills. She supports good causes but just hasn’t focused on education this year.

Tom Exum, Sr. – Grade: A-

“The 12 bills he has sponsored this year have all been made into laws, 4 of which concern education with the most interesting of them being HB22-1243.”

Tom Exum, Sr. is the representative from District 17 which covers El Paso County. A Democrat, he has been in office since 2017 and was a firefighter for 35 years previously. The 12 bills he has sponsored this year have all been made into laws, 4 of which concern education with the most interesting of them being HB22-1243. This bill creates the school security disbursement program cash fund that the department of public safety can disburse in order to improve security in schools and preserve and expand mental health initiatives. He also sponsored HB22-1276 continuing Colorado’s Second Chance scholarship which helps young people that have had trouble in their youths and have been in juvenile correctional facilities get into college.

Tim Geitner – Grade: C-

“… he is probably the committee member listed here with the least influence.”

Tim Geitner, a Republican, represents District 19 covering El Paso. Prior to his election in 2022, he was an Infantry Officer in Afghanistan. He’s sponsored 4 bills this year, only one of which was passed. His bill HB22-1066 is the only one he sponsored that had to do with education. It’s a bill that would require schools in Colorado to post comprehensive lists of all educational materials, technology, and surveys on their website as well as information about each teacher’s background and training. Geitner has announced that he will not be running for re-election this year and has barely gotten anything passed so he is probably the committee member listed here with the least influence.

Cathy Kipp – Grade: A-

“In addition to her education efforts, Kipp has passed bills related to loan forgiveness, lowering taxes for lower income people and increasing employment opportunities for young people.”

Cathy Kipp is the representative of District 52 which covers Larimer County. A Democrat, Kipp has long served on education boards and has sponsored 13 bills this year that have all passed. She tends to sponsor bills along with her fellow committee members. She sponsored HB22-1276 along with Exum, Sr. and HB22-1220 with McLachlan. 1220 supports educators by creating a stipend that allows students to train to become educators, a stipend that pays for teaching preparation programs, and a educator loan forgiveness system that allows hard-to-staff education positions find candidates. In addition to her education efforts, Kipp has passed bills related to loan forgiveness, lowering taxes for lower income people and increasing employment opportunities for young people.

Colin Larson – Grade: B-

“This is a person willing to work across the aisle in order to protect students and also deals largely with transportation issues and protections for small businesses.”

Colin Larson is the representative of District 22 which covers Jefferson County. He is a Republican and small business owner. He founded Atlas Coffee in 2014 and was elected in 2019. He collaborates with the other members of the committee often, sponsoring HB22-1396 with McLachlan, a bill that failed to pass that proposed the creation of a grant that would help improve students’ mathematics abilities. 2 bills of his that have passed are HB22-1275 and HB22-1274 and they both continue existing programs that monitor school safety. 1275 is another collaboration with McLachlan. This is a person willing to work across the aisle in order to protect students and also deals largely with transportation issues and protections for small businesses. 

Dafna Michaelson Jenet – Grade: A

A truly interesting woman that has done a lot for Colorado.”

Dafna Michaelson Jenet is unique among the committee as she is the only one born outside of the US. An Israeli immigrant and a Democrat, Michaelson Jenet is also an award-winning author and speaker. She took office in 2017 and her focus is largely on education, child protection, public health, and workers’ rights. Each of the 12 bills she’s sponsored this year have passed. Notables include HB22-1274, which she co-sponsored with Larson and HB22-1414 which provides free, healthy meals to schools. This year, she also passed HB22-1169, which redefines sexual assault from an actor forcing someone to submit to them to an actor attempting sexual acts on someone without that person’s consent. A truly interesting woman that has done a lot for Colorado. 

Most of these committee members are up for re-election soon so pay attention to their campaigns and their past actions when choosing who to vote for.


Other education bills that you should know about

While the committee oversees much of the education legislation for the state as a whole, they are not the only lawmakers proposing bills regarding education. Here are some other important 2022 education bills that you should be aware of. These have all been signed by Gov. Polis. 

HB22-1260: Access to Medically Necessary Services for Students

Sponsored by Rep. Meg Froelich, Sen. Cleave Simpson, and Sen. Rhonda Fields, HB22-1260 ensures that a policy is implemented in all schools that students with medical conditions have access to the care they need in a school setting by July 1st, 2023. Each following July, a report will be due on the total number of student requests for medical care and whether access to it was authorized or denied. In January 2025, this information will then be available on government websites. This bill was passed unanimously. 

Especially after COVID, this bill is incredibly important. Students absolutely need access to their medicine as quickly and comfortably as possible and they should be able to get it on school grounds.

HB22-1186: Adjustments to School Funding Fiscal Year 2021-2022

HB22-1186 is sponsored by Rep. Leslie Herod, Rep. Julie McClusky, Sen. Chris Hansen, and Sen. Dominick Moreno. This bill is a response to a pupil and at-risk pupil count being lower than expected in regard to the previous fiscal year’s appropriation. It also recognizes that tax revenue is up resulting in an increase in funding for education programs. As a result, the state can then use the tax money to achieve total project funding while cutting approximately $140 million from the originally appropriated budget. It then seeks to provide schools that deal with at-risk pupils with approximately 91 million as they previously received lower than expected funding. 

This bill seeks to ensure that every child in our public school system is taken care of, accounted for, and that the schools have enough funding to do so.

HB22- 1234: Preventing Identity Based Violence Grant Program

Sponsored by Rep. Michaelson Jenet, Rep. Jennifer Bacon, and Sen. Robert Rodriguez, this bill establishes a grant program that will provide grants to programs that focus on building inclusivity within communities and lessening identity based violence, violence that is enacted by a person or group on another discernable person or group. Programs funded will be dedicated to building awareness of identity based violence, strengthen collaborations within communities in the interest of prevention, or build support for prevention. $1 million will be appropriated from the general fund in order to fund this grant program.

While this one applies more to communities as a whole, it affects schools in a profound way. If implemented correctly, this bill can serve to curb the epidemic of racist, sexist, and homophobic bullying that can traumatize a young person deeply and result in low self-esteem and potentially self-harm. It is this kind of inclusion that instills empathy and acceptance in a young person, traits that we so desperately need more of in this country. 

SB22-207: Prevention of Title IX Misconduct in Public Schools

This act is sponsored by Sen. Faith Winter and Rep. Jennifer Bacon. It establishes a study in contract with a third party that examines amendments made to Title IX regulations which were enacted in 1972 to prevent discrimination based on sex in public schools or any other governmentally funded education system. The third party conducting the study must consult with the education department, a sexual misconduct advisory committee, a K-12 advocacy group, and a Colorado student government organization. The study will examine the following: best practices for preventing sex-based discrimination and harassment; gaps between state and federal law regarding Title IX; and whether Title IX places restrictions on state law and whether the Colorado general assembly may adopt different standards on a state level. The results will be turned in on January 1st, 2023. 

This is one for the teachers and other school employees. It hopes to make sure that no person can be denied a job based on sex and that any misconduct going down in the schools behind the scenes is erradicated. Teachers that feel safe and comfortable are then able to provide better engagement and enjoyment to the students.

SB22-171: Privacy Protections for Teachers

Sponsored by Sen. Jeff Bridges, Sen. Kevin Priola, Rep. McLachlan, and Rep. Kipp, this is another one for the teachers. It will add educators to a list of privately protected people whose information will be withheld from the internet.

It is unfortunate how necessary this bill is in this day and age. Conspiracy theories abound, teachers being called indoctrinators, parents angered by COVID regulations, these are all very real threats to our teachers. They should not feel at risk because of their job and the fact that there are a lot of very angry, very misinformed people out there, some of whom are not above violence.


In closing

Now more than ever, it is imperative that we, the public, protect education in our beautiful state. The best way to do this is stay informed with what’s going on and to make sure we elect legislators that will fight for education and not ones that are working to destroy it. This is the only way for our country to grow, to ensure its future will be brighter than its past.

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