Another ADM Study? HB 1292 Student Success Act Soap Opera Plays Rerun

The political soap opera of Colorado K-12 education is hard enough to watch. When you add in a rerun, it’s even harder to stomach.

Today the state house adopted on 2nd reading House Bill 1292, known popularly as the “Student Success Act.” My modest hopes for this proposal focused on moving Colorado to a student-focused Average Daily Membership (ADM) system, which promotes equity and is the basis for more customized learning.

Legislators couldn’t even follow through on this one essential element, which as proposed would have phased the state into ADM over the next four years. Instead, the version that has nearly passed its final hurdle in the House has commissioned another study of implementing ADM in Colorado.

I get the unpleasant need for study and homework sometimes, but maybe they could just crib from the 2010 report commissioned by the legislature. Yes, it’s a four-year-old rerun that gets us no closer to real policy progress. (On the bright side, you don’t have to watch a forty-year-old rerun to get one of my analogies about local school board innovation.)

According to one of the legislative sponsors, the latest version of HB 1292 also has watered down the transparency provisions. I haven’t seen an updated copy to see exactly what it now seeks to do, but given the direction moved on the ADM issue, consider me less than hopeful or inspired.

By the end of the week, HB 1292 finally ought to be ready to move into the Senate for debate. At this point, I’m inclined to say that if there is no serious will left to make the move to ADM or to provide parents and taxpayers real transparency, we might as well throw our arms up and give school districts more money out of the state’s big K-12 education savings account.

A small amount of the $1.2 billion balance is already being designated for a few things. That, plus the $110 million bonus HB 1292 currently allots to school districts, could be bolstered with extra one-time funds to restore some pay and positions, as well as to leverage terrific local innovations.

A crazy idea? Perhaps. But this perpetual 5-year-old is tired of watching soap opera reruns.