Families Watch as Dougco Choice Program Comes Before Appeals Court Today

I’m on pins and needles today. Not because all the turkey and football is only three days away, but because this afternoon is an important hearing that could affect the future of school choice in our state. The Colorado Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments concerning the Douglas County Choice Scholarship Program and the injunction issued by a Denver judge in August 2011.

My friends from the Education Policy Center and from Great Choice Douglas County will be on hand for the hearing. But in case we all need to be reminded, the ultimate direction of this case will have a significant impact on plenty of real students and their families:

With some private assistance, Nate Oakley was able to attend the Humanex Academy — a place that served his special autistic needs well — for awhile, before his family had to relocate to another state. But there are other young people out there who have special needs or learning challenges, or who encounter bullying. Not to mention, even in relatively affluent Dougco, many families have a difficult time affording a private school option they see as best for their child. And shouldn’t choice be a family’s right?

In yesterday’s Denver Post, Carlos Illescas reported on the upcoming hearing with thoughts from both sides:

Douglas County School Board president John Carson said the district has always been a strong supporter of providing an array of choices for its students, whether they are charter or neighborhood schools. The Choice Scholarship Program advances that concept, he said.

“We believe the more choices that parents and students have, the better for their education,” Carson said. “We’re very proud of the success of the school district, but we are always looking at ways to improve and innovate. We’re confident the program will be found to be legal.”

The article also points out that there is no timetable for an appeals court decision, but that regardless of the result the case again will be taken up to the Colorado Supreme Court. How long it will all take is somebody else’s guess to make. But no matter how anxious I get in the process, I’ll probably still be 5 years old when all is said and done.