- Twenty-seven new charter schools have opened in Denver in the last five years with six more set to open this summer, but critics point to data about underwhelming performance and examples of forced choice that parents don’t want.
- An Alternet article reposted by Salon reports some of the charters that have replaced traditional school options practice harsh discipline disproportionately levied against students of color, and opponents argue a small, powerful circle of local leaders have pushed a charter agenda with the support of big money from outside of the city that has bought electoral support.
- A report from the Center for Popular Democracy identified 38% of Denver’s charters as performing “significantly below expectations,” and some parents say they’d prefer more funding and support for neighborhood schools over new expenditures on charters.
Charter school performance across the country is mixed. There are high-performing charter schools that have impressive student outcomes that proponents can point to as evidence the charter sector should be expanded. At the same time, there are mediocre or low-performing charter schools that critics can point to as saying the sector does nothing more than siphon funding from traditional schools.
While the CPD study found 38% of Denver’s charters to be significantly underperforming, another found six out of eight of the city’s top schools to be charters. A report to the Colorado General Assembly based on data from the 2011-12 school year found similarly mixed results, where charters perform better on some metrics but not on others. Denver is not the only city engaging in this debate, which has become familiar in virtually every major urban area in the country.