Cesar Chavez Success Revisits Merrifield’s Infernal Email

Congrats to Pueblo’s Cesar Chavez Academy (and thanks to Colorado Charters for pointing out the accolades) – one of two charter schools nationwide to be featured as models of excellent education in a U.S. Department of Education documentary video.

This must only make more painful the recent episode of an email sent by state Rep. Mike Merrifield (D-Manitou Springs) to Sen. Sue Windels (D-Arvada), indicating that there is “a special place in hell” for “charterizers” and the like. If one remembers, the specific context of the message was in response to efforts to replicate the highly successful Cesar Chavez Academy model in Colorado Springs. Democrat education committee chairman Merrifield summarily assigned people who wanted to try a proven better program for teaching high-poverty, minority kids a place in the eternal nether regions.

According to Academy principal Lawrence Hernandez, there is a waiting list of roughly 3,000 kids to get into his school of 1,100. While parental demand for success and achievement grows, certain Democrat lawmakers like Merrifield and Windels demonstrate their singular loyalty to their political supporters – the anti-reform roadblock known as the teachers union.

It must feel like salt and vinegar poured into an open wound for Merrifield and Windels to see attention given to the tremendous success of the Pueblo charter school. Yet while they can rest easy at night knowing they have the reins of legislative power, untold thousands of Colorado parents are denied a choice like Cesar Chavez Academy to provide academic opportunity to their kids.

As explained in another recent Colorado Charters post:

Hopefully more public education leaders across America will be more concerned about WHAT works rather than WHO came up with the idea.

Amen to that. Thanks for elected leaders who want to exercise a little common sense in favor of successful models based in parental choice, leaders like Republican Senator Nancy Spence of Centennial:

“For all our efforts to re-examine and reinvent public education on a grand scale — including a blue ribbon panel studying education issues right now — it is looking more and more like one of the best solutions has been right in front of us all along,” Spence said. She denounced attempts by some members of the legislature’s ruling party earlier this year to roll back charter schools.

“I’m still reeling from the latest round of attacks on charters,” Spence said. She added that the General Assembly’s refusal to expand Pueblo’s renowned Cesar Chavez charter program — whose mostly Hispanic and low-income students perennially post impressive achievement scores — was especially ironic.

Very ironic to want to punish those behind one of the nation’s most successful schools with never-ending fire and brimstone. Welcome to a Democrat party with education leaders more beholden to an established system than open to possibilities of what might work for some of the state’s neediest kids.

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