A few Washington, D.C.,-based groups rank cities, districts and/or states on school choice options, or on the strength of their state charter school law.
These rankings show that Colorado and Denver are indeed meccas for school choice, implemented very well. While it is always easier to see the flaws and shortfalls of operations in your own backyard, it is important to remember that we stand out in the national choice picture.
The prestigious Brookings Institution recently came out with its districts rankings for choice and Denver is #1 in the U.S. One can always quibble about the elements included in a ranking index, but these rankings are based upon:
- the extent and variety of choice options;
- the choice process itself;
- the degree to which the district makes funding and management decisions based upon school popularity by parents; and,
- subsidies available for low income parents, especially for transportation.
The Center for Education Reform recently updated its rankings of state charters laws, and Colorado is #6 (and Colorado is also ranked #5 by the National Alliance for Charter Schools). And, research suggests that urban charters, in particular, have been shown to be driving high levels of student success.
As the Trump administration and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos push various forms of school choice, including vouchers and tax credits, it is good to remember that there are more and less successful current versions of choice, though DeVos seems a bit unclear on how she views Denver. With changes coming from Washington D.C., important national choice leaders are concerned about the future of the movement.
However these changes actually evolve, it is good to see the recognition of Denver and Colorado for their smart choice policies.