Denver, Help This Smart Kid See What You Plan to Do with Charters

Look, I’m not going to mess around with you: I know I’m an exceptionally smart kid. I pay attention to the education reform and policy debates more closely than most big people I know. So when I see the Denver Public Schools talking about draining the choice out of charter schools, as in the Denver Post, it feels really weird to be left scratching my head:

District officials want three charter middle schools to become “boundary schools,” which means they must accept every child in the neighborhood the schools serve.

The move could silence a long-running criticism about charters schools serving select groups of students.

The debate of charter schools vs. neighborhood schools became a focus of campaigns during Denver’s recent school board election.

“Charter schools are public schools, and they must be public schools in every sense of the word,” said DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg.

“Effectively there will be absolutely be no distinction between charter schools and district schools,” Boasberg said about the plans for these three schools. “They will equally be neighborhood schools.”

Huh? Am I misunderstanding something? This article left me with more questions than answers, such as: What will this proposed policy actually change? Are students going to be assigned to charter schools based on where they live? Are families going to get a preference in a charter school lottery based on where they live? Where is the incentive to compete and provide an excellent education? If there’s no distinction between charter schools and neighborhood schools, what’s the point? Etc, etc, etc.

A little clarity could go a long way. Trust me, I’ll have my friends in the Education Policy Center look into this one.

And as far as silencing “a long-running criticism about charter schools serving select groups of students”, maybe they should actually look at some remarkable research by Caroline Hoxby and others.