There was a small, local school board debate in Denver Tuesday night, but it had some of the big-time bluster and grandstanding that’s more common on the national stage.
Kristi Butkovich, running in Southeast Denver against incumbent Anne Rowe for a spot on the Denver Public Schools Board of Education, had this to say about Denver’s oversight of charter schools, as reported by Chalkbeat’s Nic Garcia:
In another tense moment, Butkovich claimed Denver officials didn’t do enough to rein in low-performing charter schools. She said the officials act quickly to close district-run schools in low-income communities but allowed charter schools with poor results to remain open too long.
“We need to address the charter schools that are falling further behind than our traditional neighborhood schools,” Butkovich said. “That never gets out there.”
In reality, DPS (where I worked from 2009-14) acted much more quickly to close poor-performing charter schools than it did on district-run schools. As for that getting “out there,” there are examples here, here, here, and here. In the case of Northeast Academy, DPS actually had to fight with the Colorado State Board of Education to close that charter school.
DPS uses the same system to evaluate and rank all of its schools, and its charter schools are bound by performance contracts. And DPS holds them to those contracts, rightfully so. For district-run schools, the process of intervening or closing a school is much lengthier and more deliberate…again, rightfully so.
Butkovich also took another shot at charters when, according to the Chalkbeat story, she said: “If we have a quality school in every neighborhood … there’s no need for choice.”
No need for choice for low-income families, I’m guessing she meant. Middle class families generally have quality schools in their neighborhood. They also have, and frequently use, choice to send their kids to Kent, Graland, Mullen, etc.
Why not quality schools in every neighborhood…and choice in every neighborhood? Or is choice just a privilege of the affluent? That’d be a good question for the next debate.