After a close vote Monday from the Denver Public Schools board, Manual High and Montclair Elementary found smooth sailing from the State Board of Education in their pursuit to become Colorado’s first “innovation schools”.
As Ed News Colorado explains, the vote in favor of the waiver request was unanimous — winning plaudits from both sides of the political aisle:
“I really think this is groundbreaking for Denver and groundbreaking for the state of Colorado,” said Elaine Gantz Berman, D-1st District, herself a former DPS board member.
“I’m hoping that this growing, positive trend finally gives the state the motivation it needs to realize that our schools are being crushed by rules, regulations and bureaucracy,” said board Chair Bob Schaffer, R-4th District.
My Education Policy Center friends at GoBash point out that this is no small request: Manual and Montview “received waivers from 40 state statutes, 32 district policies, and 18 collective bargaining agreement provisions”.
State Board Vice-Chair Randy DeHoff commended DPS for learning from their charter schools. Charter schools operate via waiver from state laws and district policies.
The only substantive difference between charter schools and “innovation schools” is that the latter still operate primarily under the oversight of a school district board rather than an independent board. But both education alternatives point to the importance of freedom and flexibility — and maybe the dawn of a new era.
To meet the needs of students and the choices of parents, let a thousand flowers bloom.