Please, Please Don't Nip Colorado School Innovation In the Bud

Back when I was just barely 5 (not nearly 6, like I am now) I applauded Colorado’s new Innovation Schools Act. While the law could be better – some of those adult interest group lobbyists got in there and changed it – it’s a noteworthy step in the right direction.

Today, finally, almost nine months later, the first two schools are coming forward to take action under the new law:

Manual High School and Montclair (elementary) School of Academics and Enrichment will ask the Denver school board Thursday for permission to become the state’s first two “innovation schools.”

The DPS board will hear the proposals and vote upon them at Thursday’s meeting, which begins at 4:30 p.m. at 900 Grant Street.

The Denver Post‘s Jeremy Meyer has more details about these two schools’ requests for freedom:

Principals in their presentations tonight will ask for further exemptions from state laws that govern employment rights for teachers hired by the school, how teachers are evaluated and standards schools are required to teach.

The requests also will ask for permission to hire unlicensed part-time teachers, which is currently against state rules.

What can be lost by exchanging greater freedom for greater accountability? The effectiveness of teacher certification on student learning is very much in doubt, to put it kindly. Let’s hope the DPS board is willing to take such a small chance to help some of Colorado’s neediest kids.

In related news, Manual High School principal Rob Stein is finalist for a position at the University of Denver. Hopefully, a possible departure doesn’t have a negative impact on the request for his school.

Slowly but surely, innovation in Colorado public schools is starting to bloom from the roots up. Let’s not nip it in the bud.