The Colorado legislature passed a new charter bill today that will improve charter schooling there. Here’s why you should care:
Hardcore Eduwonkers: because this bill is a promising way to allow for multiple authorizers of charter schools while still ensuring public accountability. Softcore Eduwonkers: because to get the bill passed, its sponsor, Denver state representative Terrance Carroll, had to take on many in his own party and the state teachers’ union. It’s a great political story.
The new bill — which was sponsored by Sen. Peter Groff in the Colorado Senate — establishes a nine member state board to grant charters in communities where school districts are uninterested or unwilling to. The bill is specifically aimed at increasing public school choice options for disadvantaged students. In almost every state with charter schools the majority of charters are found in low-income communities. However, in Colorado about one-third of the state’s charter schools are in the suburbs.
What’s amazing though is that in Colorado, where a voucher program was passed last year, there is still so much political resistance to public charter schools. Choice is coming to education just like it has come to most walks of American life. The question is whether progressives will steer its energy toward progressive ends like public charter schools serving disadvantaged students or marginalize themselves by taking a reactionary posture.
We know Carroll’s answer, and it’s the right one.