Students, parents and school teachers rally at Colorado Capitol as part of National School Choice Week
By Monte Whaley | The Denver Post
Lawmakers, parents and school officials gathered Thursday on the steps of the state Capitol to praise the virtues of school choice in Colorado and to lobby for its expansion.
But no one spoke more forcefully about the power of school choice than 10-year-old Jordan Smith, a fifth-grader at Golden View Classical Academy, a charter school emphasizing core knowledge including literature and mathematics.
“We read and study real and great books,” Jordan said. “No one class is too easy or too hard.”
But it has a long waiting list of prospective students. “I’m sad so many other kids are stuck on the waiting list,” Jordan said. “That’s why I want to spread the word about school choice so we can get more schools like mine and give kids the same opportunity I have.”
Jordan was a group of students who spoke up for school choice during a rally at the Capitol as part of National School Choice Week. The Denver event was among 21,000 across the country aimed at highlighting the advantages of having a wide choice of school options for kids.
Those include traditional public schools, charter public schools, magnet public schools, online learning, private schools and homeschooling.
Several legislators spoke at the rally, each vowing to keep plenty of school options available to students. After all, they said, some students need different environments to succeed academically.
“One size does not fit all,” said state Sen. Angela Williams. “We need to make sure we make every resource available to students.”
DeMarco Randall, a senior at Arrupe Jesuit High School, said the academic rigor and opportunities at that private, Catholic high school got him internships at five different companies and acceptance letters from eight colleges.
“This school changed my life,” DeMarco said.
The Colorado Education Association, a frequent critic of the school choice movement, said Thursday every parent should be able to choose the public school they consider the best for their child.
But parents are often given only selective information from interest groups promoting charter schools, the CEA said.
Parents will likely have to find out on their own if a charter school has waived out of state and district policies, information about the company that owns the charter and its finances, and if the school’s teachers and principal are licensed by the state.
“It’s time to remove the veil from the mysterious inner workings of charters and allow Colorado families and communities to make an informed choice,” said CEA president Kerrie Dallman, “just as they can when considering a traditional neighborhood school that demonstrates full, unquestioned accountability to a publicly elected school board.”