Yesterday the Commissioner of Education, Dwight Jones, spoke to a packed audience during lunch at the state Charter School Conference. The Commissioner spoke about his plan, "Forward Thinking," and how choice in education fits in to public school education. Jones said he supports increased funding for preschool and all-day Kindergarten. He also talked about how sometimes people are reticent to change, but he believes educational choice is a permanent part of the Colorado public school landscape.
Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien spoke to the group during a reception at the end of the day. She spoke about lobbying for the Charter Schools Act in 1993 while she served as President of the Colorado Children's Campaign.
Rep. Mike May, Sen. Mike Kopp, and Rep. Judy Solano, participated in a panel discussion about upcoming legislation regarding charter schools. Most of the interest was in "thorough and uniform" funding for charter school facilities.
Some of the "hot topics" discussed at the conference were:
* Academic stipulations in the charter contract that raise the bar for performance above the neighborhood public school in the district.
* How to access facility financing options and how to deal with the $3 million cut in charter school capital construction funds made in the 2007 legislative session.
* Diversity clauses in charter contracts that have consequences for not meeting a particular Free/Reduced Lunch qualifying number of students.
* Exclusive chartering authority requirements and the lawsuit against the Charter School Institute.