Jo Ann Baxter appointed to state education council |

Jo Ann Baxter appointed to state education council

Gov. Ritter names School Board president to 15-member Council for Educator Effectiveness

Nicole Inglis

Moffat County School Board President Jo Ann Baxter was appointed to the Colorado Council for Educator Effectiveness in an announcement Thursday from Gov. Bill Ritter's office.

Ritter created the council by executive order, and Baxter will travel to Denver for its first meeting Thursday.

"The council was created by executive order to work on defining educator effectiveness and new educator evaluations tied to student growth," according to the news release.

For Baxter, being appointed to the 15-person council means using her background in education and on the School Board to discuss teacher and leader evaluations.

"My job is going to be to represent school boards and their issues about changing the law and changing evaluation procedure," she said. "As a former teacher, I have input I think I can bring to that."

Baxter has represented District 5 on the Moffat County School Board since 2003. In November 2009, she was appointed School Board president, replacing Rod Durham, who was term limited.

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As a teacher for 31 years, Baxter was involved with the Colorado Education As­­sociation and has served on the Legislative Resolutions Committee for six years.

At the same time Ritter issued his announcement about the Council for Educator Effectiveness, the state of Colorado was named as one of the top 16 states in Race to the Top, a nationwide competition in which states vie for the opportunity to receive extra federal funding.

If Colorado is named in the top three finalists, which will be announced this spring, it could mean $377 million for education for four years.

But, Colorado has to be positioned to catch the eye of the White House and receive those funds, Baxter said.

"There's been a big push on this from (President Barack) Obama, and from (Secretary of Education Arne) Duncan," she said. "Colorado has positioned itself on three major components in Race to the Top, like data processing and standards, which we just got through rewriting.

"But, educator effectiveness is an area where we're not as well-positioned."

She said the council would look at current systems of teacher evaluation and work on developing a recommendation for retaining quality teachers and reassessing the effectiveness of long-time teachers.

Baxter thinks her extensive background in teaching and the legislative committee will be a strength for her as she travels to Denver.

"I'll be representing school boards and teachers and seeing if there's some way to bring the whole group together," she said. "I hope it will improve our evaluation system. I'll represent Moffat County as well as I can."

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