What to expect when you’re TBDing

Sue Catterall, Great Ed Douglas County Chapter Organizer, reports on the first TBD Colorado Meeting in Douglas County on Monday, April 2.

This week marks the launch of TBD Colorado, a statewide conversation about what Coloradans value about our state. If you applied to participate earlier this spring and haven’t heard back from TBD, there’s still hope: notifications are being sent to selected participants this week.

Even if you’re not selected to participate in your region (or didn’t throw your name in the hat), you are welcome to attend the regional meetings as an observer, which isn’t a bad idea considering that you’ll be treated to an in-depth view of some of Colorado’s most challenging issues. In addition, the public will have an opportunity to weigh in via TBD’s website and/or host TBD meetings at their home during the coming weeks and months. Larger meetings called public summits are planned for June (details on the summits are not yet available).

If last night’s Douglas County TBD meeting in Castle Rock was typical of TBD discussions across the state, here’s what you can expect:

The three-hour meeting started promptly at 4pm. Following a brief introduction by the facilitator and warm welcome by TBD’s executive director, Kae Rader, the 25 participants (and dozen observers) were given an overview of the evening’s agenda. They were told TBD was an “initiative of the people of Colorado;” to determine what Coloradans value about Colorado. The first half-hour included an overview of ground rules (“share the air – don’t monopolize,” “be hard on issues, not people,” “remain focused,” and others), facilitators roles, and projected outcomes of the meeting including a written summary of the evening’s discussion and 3 or 4 short videos capturing participant reactions following the meeting which would later be posted on the TBD website.

Participants were provided clickers to weigh in on various issues, and following a few practice questions with instantaneous results revealing the make up of the group, each participant introduced themselves, stating where they were from and why they wanted to participate in TBD Colorado.

Brief table discussions and a sharing of “what we value” with the entire group was followed by two video presentations, the first offering a view of Colorado’s changing demographics narrated by Elizabeth Garner, Colorado’s State Demographer, and the second an overview of Colorado’s state budget by Cole Finegan, member of TBD’s State Budget Framing Committee. Clickers in hand, participants weighed in on whether or not the state budget should be addressed and what should be the primary focus: reduce spending; increase revenue; or both. (Results showed that 95% said the state budget should be addressed and 65% said it should involve both reduction in spending and an increase in revenue.) Ten-minute table discussions on the state’s changing demographics and budget prompted by facilitator’s questions were shared with the larger group and another clicker survey was taken, revealing a slight shift in opinion.

The remaining 90 minutes followed a similar process on three major issues that will shape Colorado’s future: Education, Transportation, and Health. The process was similar for each topic: clicker survey, brief (6-8 minute) video on the specific topic, 10-minute table discussion, sharing out with the larger group, and a final clicker survey. Following each discussion, participants were reminded that additional comments could be submitted using the comment cards on each table.

The education video provided a synopsis of public school funding and highlighted the specific challenges facing Colorado’s public education system from preschool through higher education. While we were heartened by mention that educational attainment is tied to Colorado’s economic well-being, a number of alarming statistics revealed in the video paint a bleak future unless Colorado changes course.

That, of course, is to be determined.

You can post about your experience with TBD Colorado on the Great Ed Blog comment section (below), or comment on our Facebook or Twitter pages. 

1 Reply to "What to expect when you're TBDing"

  • Abby Loberg
    April 13, 2012 (4:21 pm)

    I like everyone’s comments about how we should prioritize education in Colorado, and for all the right reasons. But we need to address the 800 pound gorilla in the room, which is the TABOR amendment. We can talk all we want about increasing revenue for all state spending, but the reality is that tax increases are a very hard sell when left up to voters on an annual basis. Without addressing TABOR restrictions on spending, we will just be rooms full of people with great ideas and intentions, and nowhere to go.

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