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Rise & Shine: In his last year, Hickenlooper says voters hold the key to school funding

Good morning!

This is my first Rise & Shine as Chalkbeat Colorado's new bureau chief. It's an honor and a privilege to be here. Just yesterday, a television reporter of my acquaintance said, "Chalkbeat, huh? You're going to be getting into the minutiae." And I responded, "You say that like it's a bad thing." Throughout my career, as a newspaper reporter in three states and most recently with online local news site Denverite, I've found some really good stories in the small things. Sometimes they're just what you need to understand the big picture. I'm looking forward to telling education stories – big and small – with the great team here at Chalkbeat.

Today, we've got my dispatch from Gov. John Hickenlooper's final State of the State address, a story about the "mercy rule" in high school basketball, news on the DACA front from Washington, and more.

– Erica Meltzer, bureau chief

P.S. As a reminder, our first-ever Great American Teach-Off at SXSW EDU is all about math. And we’re accepting entries until Jan. 19! Click here to apply today!

PER SE In his final State of the State address, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said we “need to be honest” with voters and tell them schools aren’t going to get all the money they’re due unless they approve new funding. But he’s not necessarily calling for a ballot measure, he later clarified. Chalkbeat

MERCY RULE The Colorado High School Activities Association recently implemented a new rule to prevent teams from excessively running up the score in high school basketball. The debate over this rule change gets to what, exactly, kids are supposed to learn from sports. Colorado Public Radio

NEW PRIORITIES Newly elected Denver Public Schools board member Jennifer Bacon sees herself “speaking a language that isn’t reform or anti-reform.” Front Porch Stapleton

BETTER TOGETHER Denver unveiled the first in a series of optimistic billboards designed by students who participate in the Arts Street program. Denverite

BEATING THE ODDS The six students recognized with iINSPIRE awards overcame challenges ranging from cancer to drug addiction to years spent in a refugee camp. Gazette

DEAL, NO DEAL A bipartisan group of U.S. senators, including Colorado Sens. Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet, said they’ve reached a deal to protect immigrants brought to this country as children. Roughly 17,000 people in Colorado are DACA recipients; nationwide, an estimated half of people eligible for DACA are enrolled in high school or college. However, President Donald Trump reportedly rejected the deal because he doesn’t want immigrants from certain (*bleep*) countries. Denver Post, Washington Post