Joyce Rankin, member of the State Board of Education representing the 3rd Congressional District.
Q. What is the role of the partnership between state and federal education departments?
A. The U.S. Constitution leaves the responsibility for public K-12 education with the states. In Colorado the Federal Programs Unit, within the Colorado Department of Education, administers funds under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as well as a variety of other federal and state competitive grants and awards. ESEA is the primary federal law affecting K-12 education. All federal programs are to be used to supplement, not supplant, state support.
Q. How would you deal with the federal education policy that you do not support or agree with?
A. If it’s adopted by our legislature, I would support it. If it’s proposed, I would let it be known, by my board vote, that I am against it.
Q. What is teachers’ role in the conversation about public health and reopening in the COVID world?
A. The Colorado Department of Education has posted information about COVID-19 and safely opening schools on their website. This information has been updated regularly as conditions change. Local districts make their own determination regarding opening based on the CDE information in general, and more specifically, based on what their local health department is recommending. The final authority rests with the superintendent and locally elected board of education. Teachers in any district may make their preferences/concerns known to their principal or superintendent.
Q. What do you believe about local control in Colorado? How would you deal with a local board question or decision that you did not agree with?
A. We have local control in Colorado, and I support the law. This specifically helps our smaller and rural districts. The decision-making for opening schools this fall has varied throughout the state. Many of the schools and districts, in my Congressional District, have not been impacted by the recent virus outbreak as much as the larger cities in the state. Decision making at the local level has allowed for more local flexibility.
As to your second question, local boards are autonomous because of local control. Our board responsibility lies more at the state level. I do, however, attend the West Slope Superintendent’s conferences — Colorado Association of State Executives or CASE — and have open communication with school districts.