I’m starting to hear some good ideas from various Denver mayoral candidates about how they might improve Denver’s public education system but I have yet to hear anyone talk about mayoral control of DPS.
By the way, we need all of the candidates to speak up about how they are going to improve public education even if they don’t have direct responsibility. Mayoral control is particularly challenging for Denver because of the Colorado constitution but it seems worth more of a public discussion given the increasing dysfunction of the Denver school board, which is likely to get worse, and the ever-increasing need for more quality public education in Denver.
Did you see Shanghai’s PISA scores? They get the relationships between quality public education, economic development and their nation’s future. If Denver were to take PISA (something I’ve advocated) I’m guessing that Denver scores would be comparable to Uruguay or Bulgaria, not exactly the spot you’d want to locate the next Google.
One possible step for the next Denver mayor to consider, short of controlling DPS, might be to charter schools in collaboration with the Charter School Institute, a local university, or doing it independently. Obviously this would take legislative action but it is worth considering given the dire state of education in Denver.
Indianapolis mayor Bart Peterson pioneered this practice a few years ago and Rhode Island Mayoral Academies is now supporting mayors in Rhode Island committed to sponsoring and supporting high performing charter schools.
While DPS and the DPS charter schools just entered into a landmark agreement, I think we could accelerate the development of high quality schools if Denver got into the quality chartering business. It would also provide another check on DPS over the long term and break up its monopoly.
We need 30 or 40 new high quality schools, not just another 5-10 that DSST and West Denver Prep have promised to deliver over the next ten years. We also need more choices; DSST and WDP can’t be the only quality choices for low-income kids.
Think about the all the interesting public education possibilities with the city’s land, facilities and program resources working to support quality public schools.
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