• kids

    School Choice in Colorado

    By Joshua Sherwood, student at Colorado Christian University

    Para leer en español, haga clic aquí

    There was a rally outside of the Colorado State Capitol on January 26, 2015 during National School Choice Week. Many people including Senators Owen Hill (R) and Mike Johnston (D) attended the rally in support of school choice.

    It is well-known that the school choice movement supports the right of parents to choose the best school for their children. Many factors such as where families live, lack of financial resources, teachers unions and the government can prevent children, especially Hispanic children, from obtaining a quality education.

    Colorado has many programs that allow parents to choose their children’s school.  For example, Denver Public Schools offer SchoolChoice, a program that makes it easier for parents to find and apply to schools that they want their children to go to. In Colorado Springs, there is a considerable amount of students that attend public schools in districts that they do not live in. District 11 in Colorado Springs had a net loss of 1,782 students at the beginning of this academic year that went to a school in District 20 instead. [1] The Classical Academy has a wait list of 5,000 students that want to attend the school. [2]

    School choice is also reflected in the ability of school districts to choose the curriculum and education standards of their students. For example, schools such as The Classical Academy, school districts including Douglas County, and even the Colorado Board of Education oppose the restrictive Common Core standards. [3]

    School choice will be more prominent in the news as a variety of educational reform bills are being introduced in the Colorado General Assembly. [4]  For example, Senator Kevin Lundberg (R) introduced Senate Bill 15-045 that would allow for tax credits to be given to parents who send their children to a private school. [5] [6]

    Teachers unions have been one of the largest obstructions in enacting these kinds of reforms in Colorado. For example, the teachers union in Jefferson County fought in the district court to bar the release of the names of the teachers of Standley Lake High School who called in sick in September in order to protest the school board’s decisions. [7] Classes were cancelled due to the teachers’ reckless action. [8]

    The Denver Post Editorial Board put it best when it said that “public employees who wish to protest by pretending to be sick should not be able to hide behind a shield of anonymity.” [9] The parents of the students attending this school should know the names of these teachers so that they can make better decisions for which classes their students should take or if their kids should even attend the school.

    AThis topic is especially important to Hispanics because education policies such as standardized testing are hindering Hispanic students in public schools in Colorado. For example, standardized testing does not acknowledge that some Hispanic children in Colorado public schools are English language learners or have significant cultural differences compared to other students. [10]

    Escuela Tlatelolco is a perfect example of this. The K-12 school has a contract with Denver Public Schools that provides funding for the school as long as certain academic standards are met. However, the school has been consistently failing the district’s academic standards. The school is geared specifically towards Latino students and English language learners. In fact, many of the school’s middle and high school students transferred to the school after struggling in other public schools in Denver. The school is an alternative to other public schools; thus, it should be treated as such. District and national standards assessed through standardized testing should not apply to this school.  [11]

    However, the Escuela Tlatelolco Board of Directors will not renew their contract with Denver Public Schools due to this conflict. [12] The school will lose around 50% of its funding and will have to raise funds in order to stay operational. [13] Nevertheless, the school and parents did what they thought was best because they wanted to keep the well-rounded curriculum and rigorous testing standards that are specifically geared towards their Latino students. [14]

    This conflict should have never existed. Those who support school choice recognize that each school and parent should have the power to choose the best education for their students without having the government excessively interfere with the school’s affairs. Local school boards and parents are perfectly able to make the best educational decisions for their students just like those at Escuela Tlatelolco did. In many cases, undue government regulations, teachers unions and testing standards were barriers to the success of Hispanic students.

     

    References

    [1] Kelly, D. (2015, January 25). School choice: Winners and losers in the battle for students in pikes peak region. The Gazette. Retrieved from http://gazette.com/school-choice-winners-and-losers-in-the-battle-for-students-in-pikes-peak-region/article/1545184#!

    [2] Ibid.

    [3] Anonymous. (2013, July 16). Douglas county board of education passes resolution on common core. Retrieved from https://www.dcsdk12.org/community-relations/douglas-county-board-education-passes-resolution-common-core

    Berry, S. (2015, February 2). Colorado board of ed endorses bill to reject common core standards, tests. Breitbart. Retrieved from http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/02/02/colorado-board-of-ed-endorses-bill-to-reject-common-core-standards-tests/

    Resolution concerning common core and assessments. (2014, January 13). Retrieved from http://www.tcatitans.org/files/_wQIwE_/67e6086fed19cc363745a49013852ec4/TCA_Common_Core_Resolution_Signed.pdf

    [4] Colorado lawmakers continue introducing bills to limit testing. (2015, January 20). The Gazette.
    Retrieved from http://gazette.com/colorado-lawmakers-continue-introducing-bills-to-limit-testing/article/1544914

    [5] Lundberg, K. (2015, January 7). Senate bill 15-045. Retrieved from http://www.leg.state.co.us/clics/clics2015a/csl.nsf/fsbillcont/81A0DE617019730A87257DA200618AEF?Open&file=045_01.pdf

    [6] Senate Journal for March 25, 2015. Retrieved from http://www.leg.state.co.us/CLICS/CLICS2015A/csljournals.nsf/4D104719C0353EF78725698300768D5D/2AB2AEF0E5190EF687257E13004BBE50/$FILE/jour_078.pdf?OpenElement

    [7] The Denver Post Editorial Board. (2015, February 25). In Jeffco, it’s the teachers union vs. open records. The Denver Post. Retrieved from http://www.denverpost.com/editorials/ci_27598274/jeffco-its-teachers-union-vs-open-records

    [8] Nicholson, K., & Gorski, E. (2014, September 19). Standley Lake, conifer high schools cancel classes friday due to teacher absences. The Denver Post. Retrieved from http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_26565776/standley-lake-high-school-cancels-classes-friday-due

    [9] The Denver Post Editorial Board. (2015, February 25). In Jeffco, it’s the teachers union vs. open records. The Denver Post. Retrieved from http://www.denverpost.com/editorials/ci_27598274/jeffco-its-teachers-union-vs-open-records

    [10] Miraval, F. (2015, January 16). Too many tests in colorado schools harm latino students. Fox News Latino. Retrieved from http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2015/01/16/too-many-tests-in-colorado-schools-harm-latino-students/

    [11] Zubrzycki, J. (2014, November 20).  Escuela tlatelolco and denver public schools to end contract. Chalkbeat Colorado. Retrieved from http://co.chalkbeat.org/2014/11/20/escuela-tlatelolco-and-denver-public-schools-to-end-contract/#.VPUESfmG9Ik

    [12] Resolution over contract renewal between Escuela Tlatelolco and Denver Public Schools.  (2014). Retrieved from http://www.boarddocs.com/co/dpsk12/Board.nsf/files/9QZTU778FB1F/$file/Escuela%20Board%20Resolution%20%2011-10-14.pdf

    [13] Zubrzycki, J. (2014, November 20).  Escuela tlatelolco and denver public schools to end contract. Chalkbeat Colorado. Retrieved from http://co.chalkbeat.org/2014/11/20/escuela-tlatelolco-and-denver-public-schools-to-end-contract/#.VPUESfmG9Ik

    [14]Educational Standards of Escuela Tlatelolco. Retrieved from http://www.escuelatlatelolco.org/Educational_Standards.html

    Evaluations and Assessments of Escuela Tlatelolco. Retrieved from http://www.escuelatlatelolco.org/Evaluation_and_Assessment.html