Aurora and Other Districts Should Share More Wealth with Charter Schools

Last week I took a look at the work of Aurora Public Schools’ “outside-the-box” superintendent John Barry, and concluded:

Of course, changing the leadership model isn’t the only way to fix public schools. There are limits to the sort of “top-down” approach. More “bottom-up” reform that decentralizes authority and empowers parents with school choice and accountability is essential. But there’s also something to be said for school boards working to find more leaders like John Barry.

There was more to the point about the “bottom-up” approach than I realized. John Barry is doing a lot of good things from a reform perspective, but as Alan Gottlieb writes today over at EdNews Colorado, it appears that he’s missing the most important thing:

But one area where Barry’s forward-thinking regime has been slow to see the light is on charter schools. Last night, the Aurora school board decided to asked voters to approve a $215 million bond issue this fall. From that amount, the district is ofering [sic] a total of $750,000 to the district’s six charter schools. That’s a grand total of one third of one percent of the proceeds. Not exactly generous. Still, better than Denver, Adams 12 and Douglas, which are planning to leave charters out altogether.

It’s not as though Aurora Public Schools has taken a hard-line stance against public school choice. Of course not. I’ve also highlighted the new AXL Academy charter school that’s opening up in Aurora this fall. But one-third of one percent is a paltry sum.

Aurora Public Schools is improving, but it can do even better by showing even a little equity to its charter schools. The fact that Aurora isn’t even among the worst offenders in the Denver metro area demonstrates that there is still quite a ways to go locally in education reform.