Proponents of a recently defeated bill to require Colorado school districts to publish detailed lists of educational materials online plan to launch a similar effort through a 2022 ballot measure, a conservative group said Friday.
State Rep. Tim Geitner, a Republican from El Paso County and the legislation’s only sponsor, will file the ballot initiative with backing from the Independence Institute. The statutory measure seeks to amend Colorado law to explicitly include “educational materials” in the list of records that are subject to disclosure under the Colorado Open Records Act, according to draft text.
“Coloradans, as the investors that pay for every government expenditure, have a right to know what their government is doing — taxpayer funded schools are no exception,” Geitner said in a statement. “Transparency is necessary to inform parents and taxpayers on not just age-appropriate material, but on the rigor and focus of the next generation‘s leaders of our great state.”
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Geitner’s legislation, House Bill 22-1066, was defeated by Democrats in a 6-3 party-line vote of the House Education Committee on Thursday. It would have required all public school districts and charter schools to maintain detailed, “easily accessible” lists of educational materials on their websites, including “a summary of the content of the material,” and to provide copies of any material to a parent at their request.
Opponents of Geitner’s bill included teachers’ unions like the Colorado Education Association, which called the new requirements a “massive distraction” for educators and school district staff.
HB-1066’s provisions resembled those of model legislation released in December by the Manhattan Institute and co-authored by activist Christopher Rufo, who praised Geitner’s efforts to bring the “curriculum transparency” movement to Colorado.
Rufo is among the leaders of a national conservative movement that has crusaded against a broad spectrum of policies ranging from diversity trainings and anti-bullying programs to teachings about the centrality of slavery in U.S. history — often lumped together by opponents under the umbrella of “critical race theory,” a previously obscure graduate-level academic term with little connection to K-12 curricula.
“The strategy here is to use a non-threatening, liberal value — ‘transparency’ — to force ideological actors to undergo public scrutiny,” Rufo wrote on Twitter last month.
As a statutory initiative, the Independence Institute’s ballot measure would first need to be approved for circulation by the state Title Board, then collect and submit at least 124,632 valid voter signatures in order to qualify for the 2022 statewide ballot.
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