Where do Colorado State Board of Education candidates stand on 9 questions?

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This story was originally published by Chalkbeat. Sign up for their newsletters at ckbe.at/newsletters

Colorado’s State Board of Education is dropping from seven seats to nine, and political control of the body that sets education policy could be at stake in the November election.

The State Board of Education hires the Commissioner of Education, oversees the school accountability and teacher evaluation systems, hears charter school appeals against district decisions, and sets state standards that guide this what students should learn and what schools should teach.

The State Board doesn’t set school funding — that job is up to the legislature.

Members of the State Board of Education are elected from each of the state’s congressional districts. The board of directors obtains two new seats due to a redistricting. These include a seat representing a new 8th congressional district that includes Adams and Weld counties and a new statewide seat to maintain an odd number of board members.

Members of the Council of State serve a six-year term and receive no salary. There are four open seats, including one held by incumbent Rebecca McClellan, a Democrat from Littleton, and one by incumbent Steve Durham, a Republican from Colorado Springs. Both are candidates for re-election.

Democrats hold four of the current seven seats on the board. This election has the possibility of returning political control to the Republicanswho controlled the board for decades.

The election is November 8.

The Council of State is faced with a number of difficult problems.

This year, the Council of State ordered the reorganization of the Adams 14 districtpartly for consistently low test scores. This could result in district disbandment, school closures, or new district boundaries.

A school accountability system audit determine how well does state monitoring of school performance work? is expected shortly after the election and could lead to calls for change. The legislature will make these decisions, but the position of the Council of State will be important in this process.

With less than 40% of third-graders in Colorado grade level readingthe National Board of Education has cracked down on teacher preparation programs who promote outdated methods and pushed schools to adopt evidence-based reading programs. But Colorado’s local control system means the State Board has limited authority.

The State Board is also in the midst of a controversial update to state social studies standards. A 2019 law calls for lessons to include more perspectives from people of color and LGBTQ Americans. The proposed amendments have generated thousands of comments in favor and in opposition, and many references to race and LGBTQ issues have already been removed from the draft version.

The debates mirror those taking place across the country on how to teach about history, race, gender and sexuality. A final vote is scheduled for November, after the election but before the new members are elected. Some candidates told Chalkbeat they would like to reverse that decision after the election, depending on the outcome.

We asked candidates about these questions and more. The questions you see below are from our readers and from the report. You can use the drop-down menu to switch between races or view candidates one by one.

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news organization covering public education.

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