My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Charter Schools Debate

Th Sunday Denver Post had a debate between Sen. Sue Windels and Sen Nancy Spence as the front page contribution to its Commentary section. Sen Windels was defending her proposed legislation to reform Clorado's Charter School laws, and Sen Spence was defending the status quo.

Though Sen Spence's defense of the status quo was surprisingly inadequate, Sen Windels' case was startlingly weak. And, given that she is the one who would change how things currently stand, it seems the burden of convincing me is disproportionately on her.

She begins nicely enough, saying that her bills are simply attempts to improve communication.

Experience in the legislature has shown me that some of the biggest problems that explode into controversy could have been avoided simply by improving communication. I have learned the wisdom of evaluating "the communication level" of proposed legislation and strengthening it where it is lacking. Two of my bills this session focus on providing that "ounce of prevention" - better communication - to avoid what potentially could result in upset, angry parents and community members.

She then goes on to list what her bills are intended to accomplish:

SB 71 requires the state chartering authority to share information with the local school board regarding the anticipated student enrollment so that the school district can staff its schools appropriately. . . requires that the local school board be notified of the proposed site and that it have the opportunity to comment and give its recommendation as to whether the proposed site is acceptable. . . . "

Seems innocuous enough. Until you actually look up the bill. Among the things this bill will also cause are giving local boards the authority to "request" that the state institute deny charter applications, creates an appeals process for boards to circumvent the institute, allows a local board to deny charter applications that are geographically close to other schools, and gives individuals the right to appeal an approved charter.

And I'm not saying that these things are necessarily bad. But it draws my attention when, in defense of an idea, a person glosses over many--MANY--elements of the idea. The first thing that jumps to mind is that Sen. Windels is going to great lengths to hide her real intentions with this bill, and disguising it as "reasonable improvements to communications."

Please. Senator, don't insult our intelligence. Defend your whole bill, or withdraw it. This is not, as you claim, a simple tinkering to improve existing law--it is an oblique assault on that law with the ultimate intent of eliminating the State Chartering Authority.

Can eliminating Charter Schools altogether be very far behind?

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