New Publication About a Rural Charter Public School

In our latest profile of Colorado schools, author Peter Huidekoper Jr. paints a picture of how Paradox Valley Charter School serves as a successful place of learning for Pre K-12 students. The pride surrounding this small town school and the significant ties to the specific region are demonstrated through numerous interviews of Paradox Valley Charter School staff and community members. 


SBE Tie Vote on Classical Academy Means BVSD Decision Stands

Today, Ascent Classical Academy Flatirons lost its second appeal to the State Board of Education on a three to three party-line vote. The Boulder Valley School District’s decision to deny the charter stands. In the first appeal to the SBE, Democratic member Val Flores crossed party lines and voted in favor of the school. It has been said that her vote upset many in the Democratic Party. She was not there today, and her absence disappointed hundreds of families.


DPS Open Negotiations -See for Yourself

Since last spring, the public has witnessed a growing number of teachers who have expressed their frustration with the level of education funding from both the state legislature and their own districts’ compensation plans. In April last year, thousands of teachers rallied on multiple days at the State Capitol Building as the legislature discussed the School Finance Act. In May, Pueblo School District 60 teachers held a five day strike successfully demanding an increase in pay. Denver teachers have been ready to strike for months.


It’s National School Choice Week!!!

Today I joined fellow students at the Colorado State Capitol Building to watch the legislative process! It was really cool because I heard a legislator talk about National School Choice Week! I even met a real live legislator named Senator John Cooke from Weld County. He is really tall! Before he was a state senator he was the Weld County Sheriff. My friend, and intern at the Independence Institute’s Education Policy Center, Grace Atchison-Reynolds, wrote a spectacular op-ed about her own school choice story. Also, in celebration of National School Choice Week, Grace starred in a video! Once again the National Alliance for Charter Public Schools ranked Colorado 2nd for the best charter school laws. I was hoping we would take first this year but maybe we will next year! It is the time of year when many students open enroll into a public school other than their neighborhood school. You can learn more by going to Enjoy celebrating school choice! You have three more days to celebrate!


Are State Education Rankings Accurate?

State education rankings are commonly used in conversations about the U.S. education system. One of the most popular ranking systems is from the U.S. News and World Report.  The Cato Institute conducted a study which focused on the U.S. News and World Report’s education measurement, and set out to assess the bias behind this ranking system. The determined bias was due to the lack heterogeneity (demographic diversity) from state to state and subsequently skewed data.


The Fight for the Best Charter Schools in the Nation

The recently released book by Cara Stillings Candal, The Fight for the Best Charter Public Schools in the Nation, examines the case of charter schools in Massachusetts. Candal is an education policy expert and a senior fellow at the Pioneer Institute with an extensive background in education policy. In her book, she discusses the success of the Massachusetts charter system and the political and perceptual challenges the charter schools continue to face.


How Do We Stop Bullying and Violence in Schools?

Most of us remember where we were on the day of the Columbine massacre—almost two decades ago. How Do We Stop Bullying and Violence in Schools? Like so many of the challenges within K-12 education, it is a complex subject.

The Independence Institute recently hosted a presentation by two organizations that are making a difference. Jennie Jarratt, project manager of The Heartland’s Institute’s Center for Transforming Education and Rob Unger, CEO of Rachel’s Challenge provided us with statistics, policy recommendations, and highlights of a prevention program that is saving lives.


New Colorado Report Reveals Public School Open Enrollment Trends

Colorado has been a leader in public school choice for decades. Legislative bills to allow students to cross neighborhood school zones and school district boundaries were first introduced in the late 1980s. Legislation passed in 1990 and 1994 to open the doors to a new public school choice frontier.

Ready Colorado, an education reform organization, recently published a first-of-its-kind report about Colorado’s public school open enrollment system.


New Teacher Evaluation Systems are Improving Student Outcomes

An October 2018 report examines how initially controversial teacher evaluation systems have led to improved student outcomes. The report, Making a Difference: Six Places where Teacher Evaluation Systems are Getting Results was published by the National Council on Teacher Quality. The study analyzes several transformational teacher evaluation systems and how each impacted student achievement. A decade’s worth of reform has helped Tennessee climb from near the bottom, to the middle of the pack on the benchmark national education scores, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). In Dallas, a teacher evaluation system has helped increase student proficiency seven percentage points in all grades and subjects. In Denver, students have consistently outpaced the average Colorado state student in English and math since the inception of their teacher rating system. Innovative teacher evaluation systems in the District of Columbia, Newark, and New Mexico have also benefited both students and teachers. These effective teacher evaluation systems are tied to incentives and supports and are designed to distinguish between teachers at different performance levels; reward effective teachers and keep them teaching; identify consistently less-effective teachers in order provide supports or end their contracts; create tailored teacher improvement strategies; recruit new effective teachers; and most […]


Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Releases Report on Colorado’s Blaine Clauses

A newly released report entitled “The Colorado Constitution’s No Aid To Sectarian Institutions Clause and its Impact on Civil Rights,” examines the origins of the Colorado Constitution’s No Aid Clause (known as Blaine Amendments), and the historical and modern applications.

The report was authored by members of the Colorado Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. Independence Institute’s Research Director, David Kopel, serves on the committee as the Vice-Chair.

Nineteenth century Blaine clauses banned public dollars from supporting sectarian-religious organizations which society viewed unfavorably, including Catholicism, Judaism, Mormonism, and Islam. Mainstream Protestant denominations were not considered to be sectarian.

The report details how the clause impacts civil rights in education, students with disabilities, higher education scholarships, and lists eight state-funded voucher-like programs that provide funding for programs at religious institutions.