Three Republican state legislators made a statement by walking out of yesterday’s House Education Committee meeting yesterday, and the least this blog can do is shine the light on it. Here’s the thumbnail of the ongoing story.
Senate Bill 61, devised by Senator Sue Windels (D – Arvada), was written to empower the education bureaucracy at the expense of parents who want to exercise the option to start a charter school. That’s right: empower educrats, distrust parents. Yes, ignore the fact that there are thousands of kids in this state on waiting lists to get into charter schools. Ignore consumer demand. The all-wise educrats need to keep a tighter thumb on charters, according to the logic of Windels’ bill.
Well, after weeks of political jockeying, Windels was caught by surprise when a coalition of Republicans and inner-city Democrat Senators voted to completely overhaul her bill and make it choice-friendly.
Like their counterparts on the Senate Education Committee, the majority Democrats on the House Education Committee tend to reflect those most closely aligned with the institutional status quo – mainly, the teachers union (CEA), school board association, and others who are far more concerned with preserving institutional authority and taxpayer perks than providing more choices to parents.
So yesterday, when Representative Michael Merrifield (D – Manitou Springs) and his colleagues on the House Education Committee voted to do the educrats’ bidding and change back Senate Bill 61 to its original harmful form, 3 Republican legislators led by Representative Cory Gardner (R – Yuma) took a stand.
Why? Because Merrifield didn’t want to hear opposing testimony from the Charter School Institute’s Alex Medler (a Democrat, incidentally), says the Rocky. The message is not so subtle: “Don’t get in the way of the establishment agenda on education. We know what’s best for you.”
Kudos to the Republicans – and for a handful of praiseworthy Democrats – for being willing to innovate the schools in a way that empowers parents and families, not that limits their choices.
It seems likely that the House and Senate may approve two vastly different versions of Senate Bill 61, leading to a very interesting conference committee. This battle is far from over. Keep checking in for the view from Mount Virtus.