Selected readings on US charter schools
In Colorado and across the country, students, families and communities demand excellent schools. Parents want their children to attend schools where they can learn, grow and develop skills that will help them succeed in college and the workforce. Unfortunately, the supply of high-quality public schools has not kept up with demand.
Public charter schools have demonstrated that they are an important part of ensuring that families have the ability to choose a better school for their children in Larimer County and across the country. Public charter schools are tuition-free public schools that are free to be more innovative, while still being held accountable for improved student achievement. Every day, over 6,000 public charter schools are educating more than 2.3 million students in 42 states and the District of Columbia. In the fall, Poudre School District will have four charter schools — Liberty Common Elementary School, Liberty Common High School, Ridgeview Community School and Mountain Sage Community School — serving more than 2,500 students.
However, federal policy has not kept up with the growing demand for high-quality public charter school options. Unfortunately, there are 600,000 students on public charter school wait lists, unable to attend the school of their choice and forced to attend a different school that is the parents’ second choice at best. In Colorado alone, there are 83,000 students enrolled in 184 charter schools, and an estimated 40,000 students on public charter school wait lists. In Poudre School District alone, there are more than 1,600 students on public charter school wait lists.
I believe that a robust federal charter school policy should encourage the establishment of more high-performing schools, replicate what works in education, and ensure robust accountability for public dollars. That’s why I have introduced the All Students Achieving Through Reform (All-STAR) Act. This bill updates and improves the federal government’s program to support the financing and growth of public charter schools across the country. It does so by enabling and encouraging new charter school startups in addition to the replication and expansion of high-quality charter schools.
In an increasingly global economy, more than ever, knowledge matters for students who expect to graduate high school and get a job or go to college. The All-STAR Act would help successful charter school networks like the Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST), STRIVE Prep, and KIPP Academies to expand and replicate their success throughout Colorado. In 2012, seven of Denver’s eight highest-performing secondary schools were charter schools. For instance, DSST Public Schools’ Green Valley Ranch was the top-performing middle school in Denver Public Schools in its first year of operations, with nearly 70 percent eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. STRIVE Prep’s Harvey Park Campus, where 90 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, was the top-performing school in Denver during its first year of operations in 2009-10.
Students and families cannot wait for access to excellent schools. There are strong public charter schools in Larimer County and across Colorado that could be expanded and replicated. Moreover, it is important that Colorado charter schools are held to high standards. It is time to recognize the vital role that strong, accountable charter schools play in promoting innovation and educational success. The future of Colorado and our nation depends on it.
Source: Coloradoan – by Rep. Jared Polis (U.S. Representative for the 2nd Congressional District)