Last week I attended the National Charter School Showcase in Washington, DC. It was a reminder to me of why Colorado's charter school community is healthy and efficient.
Some states limit the number of charter schools that can be approved. Other states require that charter school teachers be licensed. Some of these charters look very much like a traditional public school, but with the charter school label stamped on it.
Colorado is different. We have two authorizers (school districts and the state Institute), which allows for a better chance for charter school applicants to get approved. Colorado allows for the automatic waiver of 13 specific laws such as teacher licensure, tenure, and principal licensure. State policy also provides funds to charter schools for capital construction purposes. It's state policies like this that make Colorado's Charter Schools Act the eighth best in the country (40 states have Charter School laws).
The Charter Schools Act was carried in 1993 by then state Senator Bill Owens (R) and state Representative Peggy Kerns (D). Both parties joined together to pass this major piece of school reform--largely due to the significant number of parents who came down to the Capitol to support the legislation.
It was very apropro that Peggy Kerns served as a founding board member of the Charter School Institute and Governor Bill Owens appointed most of the first board. Their collaborative efforts created a legacy of school choice in a state that values parent involvement.