DENVER – Nearly 1,000 students, teachers, parents, and other supporters braved the cold weather Thursday to rally on the west steps of the Colorado Capitol in a show of support for school choice.
The rally, one of more than 20,000 events going on across the county, was in planned in conjunction with National School Choice Week. National School Choice Week each year helps organize a week of advocating for choice in education. The week includes support for all type of schools, including traditional, innovation, magnet, charter, private, and home schools.
The event was sponsored by several foundations and coalitions that support school choice. It was emceed by Spanish TV journalist Rodolfo José Cárdenas and featured short speeches from students and school leaders about their experiences with school choice.
“I know that we are doing the right thing to make you successful,” State Sen. Angela Williams (D-Denver) told the students in the crowd, some who came from as far away as Cañon City. “I want to make sure that you are working hard. I want to make sure that you’re setting your sights high because you can succeed and be anything that you want to be in life.”
Williams was one of several state representatives and senators who gave brief speeches.
“I want to thank all of you for recognizing that each and every one of our kids is a little bit different,” said Rep. Polly Lawrence (R-Douglas County). “I had two kids that went through public schools, but they went to two different schools. And they had totally different experiences. What we are trying to do, and what you are doing is empowering that choice.”
Rep. Lang Sias (R-Jefferson County) said the ability to have a customized education is the foundation of school choice.
“I think it’s a wonderful thing to see this crowd growing and to see how diverse the crowd is,” Sias said. “This issue in our legislature, it’s not Republican. It’s not Democrat, or rural or suburb. It’s about the kids and I’ve been very proud to team up … with many folks from both parties to work to enhance choice and opportunities for our kids.”
Fifth-grader Jordan Smith talked about the gift of a top-notch education she believes she received when she enrolled in Golden View Classical Academy, a public charter school in Jefferson County.
“All of you out there that are feeling a positive impact from school choice, remember … we’ve got to keep fighting for more school choice,” said Sen. Tim Neville (R-Jefferson County). “More dollars that are directed where parents can make decisions, that’s what this is all about. That’s the way we’re going to have true education reform in this country.”
Alan McQueen, the director of innovation and student leadership for Platte River, said the event was a great opportunity for students from the school.
“The group of dancers were students who took a dance elective in the fall,” he said. “When we found out we would get the chance to perform here, we were excited. We like to get the kids into places where they can show their talent.”