Jerry Kopel

by Jerry Kopel

April 20, 2006


IN every basket of veto messages by Gov, Bill Owens that produces a "tsk, tsk", a grunt, or a head shaking "no", I do find some gems. Here is one.
The veto of House Bill 1023 regarding educators puts flesh on the governor's political and personal philosophy. HB 1023 passed the Senate 19 to 15, all 15  "no" votes cast by Republicans.
If the reader does not receive the House and Senate Journals either by mail or computer and is interested in what may or may not make it past the governor this year, I suggest obtaining the House Journal for March 30 and read pages 963-965. The following are portions of that veto I found most interesting.
"The bill...would require an aspiring principal coming from a non-traditional professional background to spend at least three additional years in the classroom and earn a Masters degree before gaining eligibility for professional licensure.
"Under current law an individual who pursues principal required to hold a bachelor's degree, education certification and administrative license.
"Adding a proscriptive academic obligation for principal licensure would serve to deter otherwise qualified individuals from this role and place an additional burden on our rural districts in drawing qualified personnel to their duties.
"Supporters...assume that requiring a combination of traditional education, administrative credentials and the attainment of a Masters degree is the only path to success as a school principal.
"I believe differently. I believe that the skills needed to manage a school are often different from those needed to teach in a classroom. Serving as a school principal requires a knowledge of school budgets, management of people, experience in recruiting and retaining a highly motivated cadre of teachers.
"Equally important is the ability to communicate and collaborate with students, governing boards, parents, and members of the surrounding community. The fact that many educators have these skills does not mean that other professionals do not.
"Today 90 percent of Colorado  public school principals are age 55 or older and thus approaching retirement...A one-size-fits-all approach is not the answer at a time when  school districts statewide are approaching substantial principal shortage.
"The state of Colorado should not discourage otherwise qualified people from pursuing an education career by creating unnecessary barriers to entry. The skill necessary for successfully managing a school are not unique to those who have obtained a Masters degree, and I cannot support a proposal that establishes such a narrow definition of adequacy."
(This was only a portion of HB 1023 by Rep. Keith King (R) El Paso, Fremont and Sen. Sue Windels (D) Jefferson County, and apparently the only portion to produce his veto pen. The governor in my opinion, indicated  he would have been willing to sign the rest of the original bill.)
(Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House.)

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