Not many students can say their principal has served in Congress and chairs the State Board of Education. Perhaps even fewer can say their principal also has been a great champion for parental choice and positive educational transformation. In fact, that’s probably a unique distinction that belongs to the chartered Liberty Common High School in Fort Collins, Colo., in its third year of operation under the direction of Bob Schaffer. Another distinctive source of pride for Liberty Common, its inaugural junior class (2011-12) earned the highest ACT average scores in the entire state of Colorado.
To see firsthand the source of the school’s success, my Education Policy Center friends two days ago joined a small group from Jefferson County Students First on a morning tour. The academic rigor and emphasis on core character values were evident throughout the building. Fairly unique, Liberty Common High School students are initiated into one of five different “houses” with a character trait as theme. The system promotes camaraderie among different grades and helps the students embrace and convey the school’s core values that ought to serve them well later in life.
Representatives of Jeffco Students First and the Independence Institute’s Education Policy Center pose with Liberty Common HS principal Bob Schaffer after their school tour on Monday, December 3
Obviously reveling in his consequential role as a school leader, Schaffer delighted to point out many of Liberty Common’s “incompetent teachers” — his tongue-in-cheek reference to classroom instructors who lack state certification and thus are ineligible to ply their expertise in traditional public schools. Students in an engineering class tested their wind turbine designs, a class taught by a former Colorado State University professor and supported by a local CSU partnership. Another university-credentialed instructor engaged students in a Latin lesson, while in another room a young English teacher passionately brought his discussion of literature to life. One of the social studies classrooms prominently displayed free market economic texts by Thomas Sowell and others.
Liberty Common started in the 1990s as a K-8 Core Knowledge school. Schaffer and his wife Maureen were among the founding parents. It was a long journey to the opening of the high school facility in 2010 — where the Core Knowledge foundation is built upon. In the intervening years, Schaffer completed three terms in Congress, ran for statewide office, and served on the State Board of Education more than four years before taking the helm as principal.
Coincidentally, this week also brings Schaffer’s last meeting as State Board chair, before he steps down so he can invest even more of his energies into the school he clearly loves. Today the Board votes on a resolution in his honor, and tonight a special Denver event will commemorate his years of public service. In that spirit, I want to close with a walk down Eddie’s memory lane and provide some links to some of my noteworthy posts about Bob Schaffer from recent bygone days — enjoy:
- Colorado State Board of Education Members Weigh in on “Stimulus” Bill (2009)
- State Board Members Criticize Supreme Court Ruling Made “For the Children” (2009)
- Price for State Board to Adopt Common Core Standards is Simply Too High (2010)
- Colorado Loses Race to the Top: State Board’s Bob Schaffer, Marcia Neal Respond (2010)
- State Ed Board Chair Bob Schaffer Boldly Speaks for Parental, Not Federal, Power (2010)
- Let Title I Money Follow the Child and Other Creative School Choice Ideas (2011)
- Colorado Education Association Sues to Stop Telling Parents of Teacher Arrests (2011)
- Bob Schaffer Looks Back at 10 Years of NCLB Federal Education Failure (2012)
- Proposed IRS Rule Bad Charter Medicine, But Hints at Needed Pension Changes (2012)
Best of success to Liberty Common and Bob Schaffer in the years to come!