Quotes of the Day-Colorado Charter Schools

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

The Denver Post ran a story about charter schools flourishing in Colorado. Money quote on the blessings of creative destruction:

“Take the roughly 1,700 public schools in Colorado, multiply that by 20 years, and the odds of a district-run public school being shut down by the state is 34,000 to one,” said Alex Medler, a Boulder-based consultant who worked for six years as vice president for policy at the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. “Compare that to one in 10 charters closing — one in five for Colorado — and you’ll see the imbalance.”

“The lopsidedness of district-run school versus charter public school accountability is striking,” Medler said.

Quite right- Colorado charters face real accountability conducted frontier justice style by parents with charter schools facing a one in five shot of being closed. District schools meanwhile face faux accountability (mere bureaucratic compliance) and a 1/34,000 danger of being closed.

That was the great quote in the article. The unintentionally humorous quote:

Rico Munn, a former state board member and now superintendent of Aurora Public Schools, said the board was fairly balanced in the past when it came to charter appeals. But lately, the board appears to believe charters should “rise and fall only on parental choice” and not any other factors.

Hmm, rising and falling only on parental choice. That would be consistent with the NACSA 9/33 score for Colorado on their recent rankings. I wonder how all this letting things rise and fall only on parental choice business works out academically. Oh, that’s right we actually have scores:


6 Responses to Quotes of the Day-Colorado Charter Schools

  1. Where do you find the NAEP averages for charter students in a state?

  2. Mike Norton says:

    Thanks for this blogpost and the reference to the Denver Post article. Digging deeper in to the data referenced by the Post and then comparing it to AZ history, I find that our State really has about the same performance. And in particular, so does Scottsdale Unified. One School has been closed in the last decade. Tonalea Elementary had failed so miserably that it was shuttered 3 years ago.

    It turned out that part of the decision to shutter the school, however, was a plot by a Board Member (who was about to retire from the Board) and a City Council Woman to convert the school campus in to a non-profit for their own purposes.

    So – even in doing the right thing (consolidating), SUSD did so only as a way to pursue the wrong thing (misappropriation of public assets).


    • matthewladner says:


      I think frontier justice even more ruthless for charters in AZ than in CO, but your overall point is right- charters don’t have the option to keep half empty campuses open the way we see in all to many districts here. I believe the Auditor General concluded that Scottsdale could spend another $3.8m in the classroom if they moved to the average of their peer group in terms of space per pupil. Frontier justice is swift for charters but relatively glacial for districts.

      • Mike Norton says:

        You are right about the Auditor General report. Unfortunately 2 years later next to nothing has been done in response to any of the issues identified. Admin Staffing has grown, not shrunk. Capacity excesses remain the same. Bus waste is being addressed through some efficiency software systems, but that is all.

        Through it all, SUSD continues to cut Teachers (FTE’s down >200 in six years) and add non-teachers making it one of the only big Districts in the State where Teachers are outnumbered.

        There is a new Board in place and a new Superintendent. They have not yet issued the 2018 AY Budget. Hopefully something encouraging comes out of that process.

        If not, expect longer Wait Lists at the Great Hearts campuses and an expansion at BASIS and Notre Dame.

  3. Would love to see more charter schools like Ridgeview (in Ft. Collins, I think). I visited two high school English classes there about 3 years ago. One class was discussing Paradise Lost, the other Moby-Dick (I recall). Chapters had been read before class.

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