Power to the Parents: Colorado Comes in 12th in CER Report

Today, the battle continues in Jeffco following the school board’s very reasonable vote on the curriculum review controversy. But we’ve talked about Jeffco a lot recently, so I think it’s time to look at something a little more uplifting. And what could be more uplifting than empowering K-12 parents to make good decisions about their children’s educational paths?

Like a zealous English teacher, the Center for Education Reform (CER) loves to grade stuff. Most recently, I wrote about Colorado’s grade (and how it was calculated) when it comes to voucher programs. Now, the organization has released a report ranking each state based on what it calls the Parent Power Index (PPI). The scores are calculated using a variety of criteria ranging from school choice and teacher quality to transparency and media reliability.

Colorado barely missed a top-ten slot in this year’s report, coming in at number 12 with a PPI of 76 percent. CER sums up the state’s performance as follows:

“Parents here are an active lot but have often been rebuffed at the legislative level when trying to expand their choices. That said, there is a strong charter law here. Many elements of digital learning are offered. The citizens of Colorado get to vote in school board elections when they go to the polls for other races. That fact, plus teacher quality measured at average levels, puts the Centennial State higher than average on giving parents power, but not high enough to put it in the top ten.”

Not a bad summary, actually. Unfortunately, and as the report later notes, parents have also been “rebuffed” on choice at the local level. Just look at Douglas County, where the Independence Institute and Friedman Foundation recently filed an amicus brief to defend the district’s Choice Scholarship Program from amicus attacks by both the Colorado Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers.

The Centennial State also earns a positive nod when it comes to transparency:

“The SchoolView “Performance Framework Reports and Improvement Plans” are excellent and provide very intuitive summary information. Navigating to them requires only two clicks, but they are poorly marked amid the other data offerings…”

That last sentence might be a bit of an understatement. Navigating certain CDE data systems is often analogous to bashing one’s head against a wall repeatedly. Still, at least we’ve got the data out there.

Good for Colorado. But as positive as our rating may be overall, there’s still plenty of work to be done. Parents still need more power, more choice, and more educational freedom.

See you next week.