Charter School Myths Still Alive: Time to Go Back to Education Reform Future?

Most of us know about public charter schools: publicly funded and publicly accountable schools with independent boards and waivers from certain state laws and regulations concerning personnel and program. Here in Colorado they’ve been around quite awhile and have become an important part of the education landscape.

Right now, as the Colorado League of Charter Schools reports, there are about 170 charter schools serving 70,000 students in our state (or 176 schools serving 66,000-plus students, if you accept the Center for Education Reform’s new numbers).

There’s been a long debate about charters that doesn’t need to be rehashed here. Some are truly top-flight, head and shoulders above most public schools, others operate at about the same level but offer something different or unique, while some are underperforming (one of the great things about charter schools is the poor ones can be shut down much more easily than other public schools). The myths about charters have been debunked over and over and over again.

Sadly, it looks like the Thompson School District in Loveland is behind the times with their rejection of local parents’ application to open a K-12 classical education charter school. The problem isn’t that they rejected the application per se.

Denise at Colorado Charters was at the hearing, and explains that the applicants are molding their proposal after the highly successful Ridgeview Classical School in Fort Collins. She said listening to the arguments bolstering the Board’s rejection of the proposal was like taking a step back in time:

District (union) staff were there to speak against the charter school application and they cited old myths as their reason for not wanting a charter school. Myths that most of the state agreed 15 years ago were no longer valid.

Of course, the applicants since have exercised their right to appeal their case to the State Board of Education, and I wish them well. But in the meantime, given Denise’s account of the experience with the Thompson Board of Education, I wondered if maybe — just maybe — she may have taken an alternate mode of transportation that took her back to the meeting:

Back to the Education Reform Future

It’s time for those relying on old charter school myths to come back to the future: the education reform future. Seriously. By the way, 2015 isn’t that far away. Where are our flying cars and hoverboards? I’m only 5, but I’ve seen the whole trilogy, you know.