In his speech to about 300 charter school leaders from across Colorado, Governor Bill Ritter spoke about charter schools, the drop out rate, the achievement gap, capital construction and full-day Kindergarten.
In his prepared remarks, Gov. Ritter said 1/4 to 1/3 of Colorado students drop out before graduation. He said his goal was to cut that drop out rate in half and cut the achievement gap by half within 10 years. He encouraged charter school leaders to join him in meeting these goals. Gov. Ritter also related a lack of adequate preparation for students entering first grade as a causal link to increased incarceration, referencing his experience as Denver District Attorney.
When asked if he would support restoring the $3 million dollars cut for charter school capital construction in the last legislative session, Gov. Ritter said he had supported keeping $5 million in the fund rather than eliminating it completely as was proposed by certain legislators. He also talked about the statewide need for better funding for capital construction for all public schools, including charter schools.
One charter school board member asked the Governor if he could promise that charter schools would not be forced into collective bargaining agreements. The Governor's response was to say that he didn't agree with the term "collective bargaining" agreements, he called them "partnerships." Gov. Ritter also vaguely referenced the Employee Partnership agreement that he later in the afternoon enacted for state employees via Executive Order.