Governor to address education reform

Bill Ritter announced as Club 20 keynote speaker for fall meeting

If you go

What: Club 20 fall meeting

When: Saturday, Sept. 8

Where: Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction

• The meeting is open to the public. A complete schedule of events and registration form can be accessed on the organization's Web site, www.club20.org.>

— Whatever tension that once existed between Gov. Bill Ritter and the Western Slope political group Club 20 appears to have been forgotten.

Earlier this year, Club 20 criticized the first-year governor for a lack of Western Slope representation on his cabinet. That criticism, however, ended when the governor tapped Russell George, a Rifle Republican, to lead the state transportation department.

"We had some concerns," Club 20 executive director Reeves Brown said, "until he appointed Russ George. We feel the governor has made a concerted effort to include the Western Slope.

"I think Club 20 has enjoyed a good, working relationship with the governor since he was inaugurated."

That working relationship continues next month when Ritter will appear as the keynote speaker during Club 20's fall meeting. The governor will appear Sept. 8 at the Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction.

He is slated to discuss the state's education system, how it might be improved, and update audience members on the P-20 Education Council, a panel formed to explore education reform.

Also participating in the fall meeting is U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., of the Third Congressional District. The congressman will open the fall meeting with a "Washington Update."

Club 20, a non-partisan organization, recently praised Salazar for his efforts to improve broadband access to rural communities across the state.

"We are absolutely thrilled to have the governor and Congressman Salazar join us," Brown said in a press release issued Tuesday. "It is an honor to have both of these gentlemen make time in their hectic schedules to meet with Club 20 members and share their perspective on the issues which are affecting our region."

Brown said the club expects the fall meeting to serve only as a platform for discussion.

"We don't expect to check anything off our to do list," he said. "We'll tee up issues pertinent to the region, stir up discussion and keep those issues highlighted."

The centerpiece discussion, Brown said, will be education.

"We need to improve the system in a way that will enable Colorado to be competitive with other states and internationally," he said.

The club has gathered "an all-star lineup of education policy gurus" to speak at the fall meeting.

Those participating, each of whom belong to the Ritter administration, are former Congressman David Skaggs, director of the Department of Higher Education; Dwight Jones, Colorado Education Commissioner; and Don Elliman, director of the Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

The Club 20 fall meeting is open to the public. A complete schedule of events and registration form can be accessed on the organization's Web site, www.club20.org.

"The public is welcome and encouraged to attend the Club 20 fall meeting and learn more about the policy issues which are shaping our region and state," Brown said.

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