Letter to the Editor: Common Core/National Charter School Week

Letters to the Editor (4)


Colorado’s Charter Schools Deserve Recognition During National Charter School Week

No educational system is perfect.  But Colorado does a lot of things right when it comes to educating its children.  One is how Colorado does charter schools.

According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Colorado currently ranks 5th in the nation in its implementation of charter school laws.  The ranking was based on 20 criteria to include academic performance, special education availability, student access to extracurricular and interscholastic activities, and teacher access to retirement programs.

Common Core risks screwing this up.  When we have something here that’s working so well, why are we trying to “fix” it?  Unfortunately, the Colorado Department of Education has already made its decision:  Common Core is coming soon . . . to a school near you.

Today, Colorado has 186 charter schools operating statewide.  They account for 10.2% of all Colorado public schools with approximately 90,000 Colorado children enrolled across all demographics.  And the number of charter schools and students increases every year.

I know first-hand the great opportunities that Colorado charter schools offer families.  While my wife, Kelly, and I have homeschooled our six kids over the past 8 years, two of them have attended a charter school in Northern Colorado, called Colorado Early Colleges High School.  Through this program, my 18-year old son, Sam, earned his high school diploma this past December, a full semester early.  Along with his diploma came an Associates Degree.  He’s now enrolled at CSU as a junior!  My 17-year old daughter, Sarah, is on track to graduate from CSU at the age of 19.  That will be a total savings for my family of over $40,000!  All because my kids attend a Colorado charter school.

During a time when economic uncertainty stresses families to their breaking points, a charter school that figures out a way for its high school students to earn substantial college credit is a life-changer.

Here in Colorado, charter schools are rethinking what “classrooms” should look like, and they are doing a fantastic job.  We have charter schools that are Montessori education-based.  We have home-based online schools and those specializing in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).  We have homeschool co-ops, schools that teach kids in a classical education tradition, and schools that extend the length of the school day and academic-year calendars.  We have those that promote Chinese language immersion and others that focus on meeting the needs of at-risk youth.  Denver even runs a girls-only middle school.  Another centers on a collaborative, “hand’s on” approach to learning.  And the types of creative charter schools in Colorado goes on and on.

These innovative programs give parents more choice about how their children are educated.  Parents can choose an educational environment where their kids will find success.

“We the People” know best what’s good for our children, not the federal government with its flawed “one size fits all” academic standards.  We know that every child does not learn in the same way.  We know that every child does not have the same dreams and goals.  Nor should they.

The federal government’s involvement in education thus far – from its creation of the Department of Education (thanks to President Jimmy Carter) to “No Child Left Behind” to “Race to the Top” – has been an abject failure.  With the federal government’s “help,” we now have lower test scores, more dropouts, and our kids are less competitive when compared to their counterparts in other parts of the world, especially in math and science.

We must not allow our children to become lab rats in yet another Department of Education experiment.  If we don’t stop Common Core now from crippling the great strides that we’ve made here in Colorado, our children’s future – and, therefore, our country’s future – looks bleak.

By Steve Laffey

Steve Laffey is a financial expert, former mayor, author, filmmaker, and small farmer in Northern Colorado.  He is currently running for U.S. Congress in Colorado’s Congressional District 4.  Visit www.SteveLaffey.com for more information.

(Editor’s Note:  Common Core/Testing will be discussed during the Lamar RE-2 School Board Work Session, Monday, May 12, from 6pm to 6:30pm)

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