A bipartisan bill backed by Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colorado), would encourage kids to be held back a grade if their reading skills aren't up to standard by third grade.
Under the provisions of the bill, the decision can be made without consent from parents, though it does require schools to reach out to parents. If parents don't get involved in the decision, holding a child back would happen by default.
The idea behind focusing on reading is that if a child can't read well, they'll have a hard time learning all the other subjects going forward in grade school.
Many viewers shared passionate perspectives on this issue on the 9NEWS Facebook page.
9NEWS took some of those comments and questions to Lt. Governor Joe Garcia, a big backer of the bill.
Michelle Dougan wrote about her concern that parents won't go along with decisions to hold children back.
"I've been a teacher for a long time and seen kids who can't really read in the sixth grade," Dougan said. "Never once has a parent supported the recommendation for retention, even when it is best for the child."
"Michelle's right," Garcia responded. "Often parents object to holding their kids back regardless of how well they're performing, but that ultimately hurts the child. It also hurts the rest of the kids in the class when a teacher has to spend a lot of time working with students who are below grade level."
"Absolutely it's hard but again we have to think about why schools exist," Garcia said. "Do they exist to keep parents happy or to educate children?"
The bill includes exceptions for kids who come from families that don't speak English and those with learning disabilities.
Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg argued we should be funding more preschool to prevent the problem.
"[Funding is] very limited from the state for preschool, we still don't even fund full-day kindergarten as a state," Boasberg said.
Garcia agrees, saying the state's research also points to more early education as part of the solution, but it would be too expensive.
"We can't do everything but that's not an excuse to do nothing," Garcia said.
A lot of 9NEWS viewers wondered about the role of parents in these cases.
"A lot of people seem to think it's the teacher's job to be the only one who teaches, it's sad," Stephanie Shubert said. "My husband has issues reading but he was never worked with at home."
"The best teacher in the world can't overcome years of parental neglect," Garcia said. "We need to work with those parents to provide their kids the best chance possible."
Garcia says the bill aims to get parents involved and requires schools to document attempts to reach out to parents of kids who are slipping. The idea is to get the parents to help create a plan to get their children back on track.
Garcia answered many more questions from 9NEWS viewers. More responses will be aired on 9NEWS Sunday at 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. in YOUR SHOW.
The bill gets its first hearing Monday, March 12.
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