Little Eddie's Wednesday Triple Play: Dougco, School Choice, and Accountability

I feel like we have few distinct tracks here on Little Eddie’s edu-blog. We often talk about Jeffco and its ongoing struggles, I always love to talk about school choice in any form, and I’ve been known to get into financial issues from time to time. But what happens if—don’t freak out me here—what happens if we blend three of our favorite tracks into a single blog post? Oh yes, it can be done. In fact, I’m going to do it right now.

Let’s start with our good friends in Douglas County, who you will remember we’ve talked frequently about in recent months. Back in August, I highlighted an amicus brief co-authored by my edu-buddies Ben DeGrow and Ross Izard in support of Douglas County’s local voucher program. I also spent some time pumping you up for oral arguments in the related Supreme Court case (no decision yet, I’m afraid), celebrating the district’s return to the state’s top accreditation rating, and deconstructing some attacks against Douglas County’s pay system.

That, my friends, covers both Douglas County and school choice. Now for the third track: Accountability. Yeah, I know we just talked about this yesterday. But this is a facet of education reform that I was reminded of today as I read about Jeb Bush’s brief stump in Denver earlier this month.

I know, I know. Jeb is a pretty controversial figure these days. And yeah, he likes some stuff that I think is pretty yucky. Still, it’s hard to deny that many of his choice- and accountability-based reforms have had a serious impact on Florida’s education system.

In fact, Florida has in many ways become a success story that others look up to. Its public schools have made pretty dramatic improvements over the years, it now boasts the nation’s oldest (and largest) scholarship tax credit program, and it is one of several states standing strong for school choice in the face of massive union-led attacks.

So what does all that have to do with Dougco? Well, not much directly aside from the obvious nexus with school choice. But during Jeb’s visit to Denver, he was introduced by the vice president of the Douglas County Board of Education, Doug Benevento.  Jeb praised Dougco’s fight for choice by supporting the district’s embattled voucher program. But as Benevento pointed out, that’s just once aspect of what Dougco has accomplished on the choice front:

 “We’ve expanded charters to meet the demand. We’ve expanded open enrollment to meet the demand. We have online education to meet the demand. Really that’s what we’ve talked about in the past, and what his comment was targeted at — providing choice to parents so students can be put in the best position to succeed. That includes a strong neighborhood school system.”

Right on, Dougco! Here’s hoping other districts follow Dougco’s lead and start fighting for more school choice (assuming we get that all-important favorable ruling from the Colorado Supreme Court, of course). And while that’s going on, let’s remember that the foundation of strong neighborhood school systems is strong accountability systems.

See? Dougco, school choice, and accountability, all in on blog piece. If that’s not efficiency, I don’t know what is. See you next time!