The narrative of how district and charter school leaders in Colorado's mountainous Roaring Fork Valley created a pact to enhance their relationships is an inspiring one. This report seeks to add accurate data and research to the conversation about charter schools and school choice in Central Colorado. Critics of charter schools argue that if a family chooses to leave the district-run school and enroll in a charter school, the district-run school is harmed because the funding follows the student to the charter school. The growth in enrollment in charter schools has exceeded the enrollment in non-charter schools for seven out of nine school years during this period.
According to the Colorado Department of Education, as Colorado's charter law is structured, both charter schools and their authorizers (the local school district or the Charter School Institute) share responsibility for providing special education services. It is through these evaluations that charter schools are measured, along with all other public schools in the state. The study found that the academic growth experienced by low-income black students in charter schools was equivalent to 59 days of additional learning in mathematics and 44 days of additional learning in reading, compared to their peers in non-charter schools. If charter schools enroll a higher proportion of students from district-run schools, districts may have to make more difficult adjustments, such as firing teachers or consolidating schools with low enrollment. It should be noted that this gap is greater in the North Central and Pikes Peak regions, which together are home to 15 charter schools.
For example, the waiting list for Liberty Common Charter School in Fort Collins, a school authorized by the PSD, exceeds 800 students, according to director Bob Schaffer. In addition, Colorado has an open enrollment system that allows families to “choose between schools run by the district beyond the assigned neighborhood school.” Typically, students attend these traditional high schools in person (during normal times), and these high schools are not specifically focused on alternative education and are not designated as early universities. Therefore, without adequate statistical controls, the difference observed in the performance of students in autonomous and non-autonomous schools could be linked to the characteristics of the students and not to the fact that teaching is better or worse in charter schools. Drew Goltermann, director of new school development for the Colorado Charter School League, said that running a charter school is really like running a non-profit company, and often school founders just aren't ready for that. The charter school authorizer sponsors the charter school and, through a contract, has outlined certain provisions that the charter school is responsible for complying with. Contact the charter school and fill out an “intent to enroll” form for the schools that interest you. The influence of charter schools on Central Colorado is an important topic for parents and educators alike.
With more than 15 charter schools located within North Central and Pikes Peak regions alone, it's clear that this type of education is becoming increasingly popular among families who want more options when it comes to their children's education. The data shows that low-income black students who attend charter schools experience greater academic growth than their peers who attend non-charter schools. Furthermore, running a successful charter school requires a great deal of effort from both its founders and its authorizers. Ultimately, it's up to parents to decide what type of education they want for their children. But it's important to understand all aspects of this issue before making any decisions.
With this information at hand, parents can make an informed decision about whether or not a charter school is right for their family.