Twenty years ago this month Albert Shanker, then-American Federation of Teacher's President, gave a speech in which he introduced the concept of "charter" schools. Albeit his original vision included union representation in charter schools, he did envision schools being mission-driven with a special niche in the educational market.
The first charter school legislation was passed in Minnesota in 1991. Colorado's law passed in 1993. Many of Shanker's original ideas, such as allowing teachers to vote on whether their school converted to charter status, didn't materialize in the laws adopted in many states. Colorado's charter school movement is known for its grassroots creation of schools--many parents got involved in opening the first charter schools.
In Colorado the charter school legislation was originally bipartisan; now the strongest supporters are Republicans and a handful of Denver Democrats. But the people who started the state's charter schools are both Republican and Democrat. Charter schools are very diverse politically, uniting under the common theme of being able to operate a school of choice.
A group of teachers started the CIVA Charter School in Colorado Springs. Waivers sought, and granted, include the statutes for teacher licensure and negotiating with the teacher's union. No charter schools in the state have a collective bargaining agreement.