Notable witnesses testify in Lobato education funding trial

Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, a Stanford professor and recognized national education expert, spoke on the need for more teacher support in school reform Friday as the plaintiff’s side began to wrap up its case in the public education adequacy funding lawsuit.  The state of Colorado started its case today, bringing Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia to the stand to defend the state’s current level of education funding.

Darling-Hammond testified that teaching is a profession, with U.S. public school teachers working more hours than teachers in any other country.  She noted American teachers have less planning time, and that other countries achieving higher marks in education provide greater support and better compensation for their teachers.  

“As hard as I work now,” said Darling-Hammond, “I never worked as hard as I did as when I was a public high school teacher.”

Darling-Hammond echoed one of the plaintiff’s main themes that school reforms won’t work without resources.  She stated there was no proof that raising standards alone will raise achievement, noting “standards won’t teach themselves.”  According to Darling-Hammond, the evidence shows raising standards without supporting teachers, schools, and districts can lead to higher rates of student drop-outs.

Implementing new, higher standards, Darling-Hammond said, requires resources to re-tool the curriculum, give students access to technology and train teachers to teach in new ways.  She testified on research showing a strong relationship between resources and achievement, adding money spent close to instruction makes a larger difference than those dollars spent further from the classroom.  When asked if Colorado could implement all reform recommendations with existing resources, Darling-Hammond said, “We can always imagine spending some resources more strategically, but it is hard to imagine accomplishing all the new standards without new investment in education.”

By contrast, Garcia said today that Colorado has met requirements to provide free, quality educational opportunities to all young people, according to a report posted on Education News Colorado’s website.  “I believe we have met our minimal constitutional obligation,” Garcia testified.  “I would not go so far to say it is the best system we can provide,” he added.

“Personally I would like to see more resources available for all levels of education,” Garcia said, stressing the need to “couple those resources with the right policies.” Asked if he’s sympathetic to the plaintiffs’ concerns, Garcia said, “I am.”

Follow the progress of the Lobato trial on the CEA website – www.coloradoea.org.

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