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Lombardo: State Board of Education should protect school choice

Today, the Colorado State Board of Education will make a decision that will have life-changing ramifications for families. That statement may seem overly dramatic, but for hundreds of families in the Boulder area it is a reality.

The Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) Board of Education seeks to limit school choice for its community. While this may seem like a local issue, it is one that could have major consequences across the state. Hundreds of Boulder area parents recently expressed their desire to establish a new tuition-free, public charter school—Ascent Classical Academy Flatirons—to provide their children with a classical education focused on the liberal arts and sciences, yet the BVSD Board of Education rejected the school’s application.

As the State Board prepares to hear an appeal on Ascent Classical Academy Flatirons’ application, I am hopeful that board members will take into consideration not only the Boulder community’s strong desire for classical education—nearly 650 students have already completed an Intent to Enroll in the school, which is slated to open for the 2019-20 school year—but also the positive impact this learning model has had in other neighborhoods across Colorado, including here in Golden.

School choice and charter schools exist for situations just like this—where parents want alternative options and curriculum, but the local school district offers a one-size-fits-all approach to education. I’ve seen substantial, positive changes in my child since participating in classical education, and I am forever grateful to have the option of school choice and want others to have that same experience.

As the parent of two students at Golden View Classical Academy, I have seen first-hand the benefits of this education steeped in the liberal arts and sciences, an education focused on developing moral and intellectual virtue in my child. My sons’ excitement for learning has never been greater, and their commitment to be an outstanding citizen never higher. How could anyone, especially those appointed to strengthen and protect education opportunities for children, be opposed to such outcomes?

Perhaps there is confusion about classical education? Perhaps there is concern for an education model that does not rely so heavily on technology? For some parents, such as myself and the hundreds in Boulder interested in sending their children to Ascent Classical, that lack of dependence on technology makes the curriculum and school culture so attractive. We hunger for our children to have greater human connectivity and to participate in engaging and thoughtful conversations with teachers and peers. Ultimately, we believe such interaction will further their development and prepare them for success in whatever profession they choose. That said, we understand classical education is not the right solution for all families, but we are not trying to limit options for others.

Classical education values students as individuals and offers a content-rich liberal arts curriculum paired with instruction in civic virtue and moral character. In the curriculum utilized at Golden View (and proposed for use at Ascent Classical), students learn the core disciplines of math, science, history and language arts, followed by attention to music, art and foreign languages. It does not groom students to adhere to a particular religion or political ideology, as those opposed to these schools claim. Its only expectation is for students to make thoughtful, informed choices, with the ultimate goal of providing a foundation that inspires students to love learning and live happy, fulfilling lives.

When parents see that an education option does not work for their children, they have the right to choose another school. That sounds great to me and to so many other families here in Colorado.

Kelly Lombardo is a parent of a 1st and 3rd grader at Golden View Classical Academy

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