Better Than Dusty Old History: Learn How Colorado Got Its Charter School Law!

Just a short one today. Because it all has to do with things that happened in the way-back long ago dark ages of 1993 (before my time), I defer to my Education Policy Center friends. What better place to start than today’s Denver Post column by Vincent Carroll, who writes about when the good guys in education reform prevailed.

Twenty years ago on Monday, then-Gov. Roy Romer signed into law Colorado’s Charter Schools Act, the third of its kind in the country. Carroll captures the essence of it well and, importantly, also points readers to a great new Independence Institute non-fiction story:

Cracking the door open to school choice wasn’t easy, of course. It took supporters years of work and multiple setbacks in the legislature before open enrollment and charters emerged intact. And that story of relentless resolve has now been recounted, step by step, in a 37-page booklet released by The Independence Institute titled “On the Road of Innovation: Colorado’s Charter School Law Turns 20.”

The respected Post columnist gives high praise to the report, calling it “painstakingly evenhanded.” I would also point out that it’s an interesting page-turner, much more gripping to read than the usual wonkery (not that there’s anything wrong with that). This new paper has political drama, lighthearted moments, and even some sad stories. If you care at all about kids and schools, and have even a slight appreciation about learning from the past, you’ll want to read it.

Not convinced to check out On the Road of Innovation yet? Whet your appetite by listening to yesterday’s 20-minute radio conversation between Benigno and Ben DeGrow. Then you also can go ahead and watch the cool 25-minute commemorative documentary created by the Colorado League of Charter Schools.

It may be dusty old history to me because I happen to be so perpetually young. But at the same time, the paper (not to mention, the podcast and video) reminds us of all the creative hard work that went into building the thriving Colorado charter landscape we see today. It may give me a lot more to keep an eye on, but I certainly appreciate being able to do that!