This week marks the start of National School Choice Week. As the parent of public charter school students in Denver, I’ve witnessed firsthand just how transformational the experience has been for my children. From the moment my son walked through the doors of DSST: College View High School, he has felt accepted as a part of the community and the school has played a critical role in how far he’s come in his educational journey.
I believe all students in Colorado deserve to attend a public school as unique as they are. When teachers are empowered with the creative freedom to teach to the unique needs of their students, great things happen. Overall, our experiences have proven to me that public charter schools are best positioned to provide Colorado families like mine a high-quality public education and ensure our children are set up for success in college, career, and life.
Before we decided to enroll Tyrnon at DSST, we felt overwhelmed at the number of options available to us—it was complete information overload. While charter schools were a whole new world for us in some ways, the bottom line is that they are public schools, and simply allowed the freedom to be more innovative, while still being held accountable for student performance and achievement. And, just like any other public school, they are open to all Colorado families, are tuition-free and don’t require any special entrance requirements. After talking to school staff during one of the district’s school choice expo events, I felt confident they could meet Tyrnon where he was at and help him develop into the confident, strong scholar he has become.
Charter schools offer families like mine a choice in the public education system. We know a one-size-fits-all approach to learning simply doesn’t work. Ever since elementary school, my son has struggled to get the individualized attention and structure he needs to succeed. School always seemed to be a struggle and our neighborhood school’s hands-off approach wasn’t helping him find his way. At DSST however, things have completely changed—once Tyrnon enrolled, it felt like an enormous weight had been lifted. From more open lines of communication, to smaller class sizes and a supportive community, DSST’s approach made a huge difference in improving Tyrnon’s educational experience, and I could see it immediately.
My charter school offers innovation, creativity, and personal attention to ensure my children get the education they need and deserve.
And none of this would be possible if Colorado didn’t have strong laws in place to support the existence of charter schools. In fact, just this week, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools released its annual state charter school laws report, which evaluates how well each state’s charter school laws measure up to the “gold standard.” For the second year in a row, Colorado ranks #2 nationally.
At the end of the day, as a parent, I want to ensure that my children are set up for a lifetime of success—in college, their career, and in life. In today’s world, that requires an education that is intellectually challenging, builds core character traits, and provides the skills to tackle problems in an increasingly complex and technological world. DSST: College View High School and other charter schools across Colorado are especially equipped to deliver this because they are given the freedom to innovate, teach holistically, and consistently go the extra mile for my kids.
Public education does not belong to one particular kind of school; it belongs to our children. And the purpose of the public education system is to give each child the tools and skills they need for a successful life. That is exactly what public charter schools do. We should be inviting the kind of innovation and out of the box thinking public charters bring to the table, rather than discouraging it. These schools have a unique ability to draw in diverse families, empower teachers to personalize curriculum, and develop strong school communities leading our children toward success, wherever the future takes them.
Amy Hill is a local parent of two students currently attending public charter schools in Denver.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of DSST