Best: It isn't very often that a stellar group of individuals join together to create a new charter school. When they do, and they do everything right, they should (theoretically) sail through the process and open. That didn't happen with Prospect Ridge Academy, a charter applicant that twice had to appeal to the State Board of Education. At the second hearing, the State Board ordered Adams 12 School District to open the new charter school.
The case had several elements that are critical to the charter school philosophy such as the State Board declaring that the district did not have the right to approve charter school staff nor select its financial auditor. Many believe these examples of autonomy, created by the Charter Schools Act of 1993, have been eroded over time as charter leaders have acquiesced to districts demanding more control. The State Board drawing a line in the sand on a handful of issues will have an impact for quite some time.
Worst: Colorado had two failed attempts at the federal Race to the Top grant competition. It's important to note that on the section of the grant application relating to charter schools, the state received 100% of the possible points. Colorado clearly has a national reputation for being charter-friendly. Statutory provisions such as multiple authorizers, automatic waivers, employee autonomy and financial autonomy are just some of the reasons Colorado has a strong charter school law. The Race to the Top process didn't honor states that were truly innovative and instead encouraged states to lift their caps or pass new charter school laws, measures that do not have lasting effect because there wasn't a foundation to support the measures -- only a short-lived incentive that meant nothing to the states.
Funniest: I've milked the "Kermit" story for almost an entire year. Almost every time I've seen Tony Fontana, the Executive Principal at Peak to Peak Charter School in Lafayette, I've found a way to remind him of the Kermit story. Last January we were in an administrator's meeting in Longmont when Tony took a call on his cell phone and then left the meeting to run back to his school. There was a security alert due to an abandoned duffel bag in the parking lot. After law enforcement shut down the perimeter of the parking lot and school was called off, oh and the news helicopters captured the suspicious duffel bag from the air, it was determined that the suspicious item was actually Kermit the Frog. Kermit belonged to a teacher at the school and students had taken it (as a prank) and then didn't have any way to "return" it. Hence, a situation that could only be attributed to teenagers without all of their brain cells fully developed. And of course, many opportunities to tease people about the "dangers" of Kermit the Frog.
Happy New Year everyone!