Dozens of parents went before the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) Board of Education on Jan. 22, imploring them to approve an application for a new charter school, Ascent Classical Academy Flatirons. Despite this, and Ascent’s remarkable success elsewhere, the board rejected the application. Charter schools are tuition-free public schools granted certain flexibility in their educational models, but which still must teach to the same standards required of other public schools. According to the Colorado League of Charter Schools, there are over 250 charter schools state-wide, with over 120,000 students.
The proposed school sought to replicate two highly successful charter schools already operating in Colorado; Golden View Classical Academy in Jefferson County, and Ascent Classical Academy in Douglas County, both of which enjoy waiting lists of parents wishing to enroll their kids.
The BVSD board had initially refused to even consider Ascent’s request, but the state board of education in November instructed the district to hear the application. The BVSD responded by essentially going through the motions.
It’s hard to see the rejection as anything other than an overt bias against charter schools in general, and Ascent’s classical education model in particular. And that bias isn’t limited to the BVSD board. A Boulder Daily Camera editorial defending the board decision while slamming Ascent claimed that “The name Ascent is an apparent allusion to Jesus’ ascension.” In turn, Ari Armstong, a well-known Colorado blogger and author, went ahead and did what the Camera should have done: he asked Ascent’s executive director, Derec Shuler, about the origins of the name.
According to Shuler: “Robert Garrow, Principal of Golden View, and I were brainstorming names for this initiative. He came up with Ascent because we want our children to aspire toward being better people and flourishing, or ascending. Jesus’s ‘ascension’ has never crossed our minds and is a far-fetched claim given the Daily Camera never asked us about the word.”
The message coming out of Boulder: We aren’t interested in a diversity of educational options.
Shuler recently sat down with Independence Institute* president Jon Caldara on his pubic affairs show Devil’s Advocate (airs Friday nights at 8:30 on Colorado Public Television) to talk about Ascent and the BVSD decision, that video is below.
*Complete Colorado is a project of the Independence Institute