Charter School Institute Wins "Authorizer Leadership Award" from Colorado League of Charter Schools
The Colorado Charter School Institute today was honored with the "Authorizer Leadership Award" by the Colorado League of Charter Schools.
The institute was given the award for employing the best practices, for the commitment of its board members, and for encouraging the growth of high-quality charter schools. The award was given during the 14 th Annual Colorado Charter Schools Conference today (Friday, Nov. 2) at the Sheraton Denver West Hotel in Lakewood.
The Charter School Institute was created by the state legislature in 2004 as an independent agency within the state department of education. The institute is governed by a nine-member board. Seven of the board members are appointed by the governor and two members by the commissioner of education.
"Since the charter statute passed in 1993, the most profound change to Colorado's charter school landscape came with passage of the Charter School Institute legislation in 2004," said Jim Griffin, president of the Colorado League of Charter Schools. "The institute's presence has turned a bright light on what it means to be a charter school authorizer and why that role is central to the idea of quality charter schools."
The institute may authorize the creation of charter schools in any school district in the state, as long as that district has not been granted "exclusive" chartering authority by the Colorado Board of Education. To date, the institute has authorized 12 schools and oversees about 4,100 students in Aurora, Avon, Carbondale, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, Grand Junction and Westminster.
"The Charter School Institute has demonstrated exemplary leadership in charter school authorizing," said Denise Mund, senior consultant with the schools of choice office at the state department of education. "They have instituted numerous best practices, which include interviewing charter school applicants, retaining outside application reviewers, negotiating effective charter school contracts and conducting monitoring and oversight in a reasonable manner. Board members have spent hundreds of hours reviewing charter school applications and honoring the mission of the CSI, which is to serve high-risk populations."
Speaking Thursday (Nov. 1) at the same League of Charter Schools conference, Commissioner Dwight Jones said charter schools clearly meet the needs of parents and students.
"The debate about choice in Colorado is over," said Commissioner Jones. "Parents have already made that choice . . . and I believe we ought to move on. We ought to shift our focus to creating the best schools that parents can send their kids to."
Commissioner Jones called for a partnership between charter schools and the department of education.
"The department of education will support and serve charter schools—you have my word on that," he said.
Whether a poor-performing school is a charter school or a non-charter school, "the first objective is not to punish and close [the school]; our first objective should be to say, 'How can we fix it?'"