We believe in, act on, and speak to three pillars of our work: Quality, Choice, and Equity. Like three legs of a stool, each pillar is intended to be supported by and supportive of the other two. These three footings are the foundation on which we build the League’s Principles, a necessary component of understanding why we do what we do. They are intended to be important touchpoints for which the League advocates, rallies around, and supports member schools in developing.

First Principle

Putting Students First: All Colorado children, regardless of zip code or background, deserve access to high-quality public school options. The League and charter sector efforts revolve around doing what is in the best interest of children and what will measurably improve students’ educational outcomes. This is the consistent benchmark that we check against for every strategy, project, tactic, or position.

Additional Principles

Empowerment: Our current public education system is ill-equipped to consistently provide high-quality options to all learners because of its top-down, overly static, overly bureaucratic approach. What we need instead is a bottom-up approach that empowers educators, families and communities and allows for new ideas in the public education space.

Innovation: Charter schools epitomize an empowering approach to public education because of their unique mix of autonomy in exchange for accountability. Charter schools inject much-needed innovation and diversity into a public education system that far too often defaults to a one-size-fits-all approach that does not serve all learners well.

Diversity: Much like diversity of options and approaches strengthens the entire charter school space, so too does diversity of teachers and leaders elevate the entire sector. Relative to statewide averages, Colorado charter schools serve higher percentages of both students of color and English language learners. A growing body of evidence points to the distinct benefits students receive from being taught by educators of the same race or ethnicity. Colorado’s charter school sector should continue to do its part to proactively and intentionally diversify the ranks of its teachers and leaders.

Charter schools are public schools, a part of Colorado’s public education ecosystem, and as such are open to all students, transparent with taxpayer dollars, structured as nonprofits, and subject to the same standards and assessments as all public schools in the state.

Autonomy and accountability lie at the heart of what makes charter schools successful. Without school-level control over such key factors as staffing, budget, and educational program, charter schools would not have the tools necessary to innovate and be responsive to their students and families in the way their communities need. At the same time, autonomy comes in exchange for increased accountability and responsibility for improved student outcomes. All charter schools are governed by performance contracts that spell out the specific targets they are supposed to hit. If a charter school consistently fails to hit these targets, it can be closed. All public schools would benefit from being governed by similar principles and practices related to autonomy and accountability.

Comparability to Inform Choice: In order for a system of diverse schools to thrive, we need a comparable means of assessing the quality of various educational options. Comparability across all public schools empowers parents and families to make the most informed school choice possible, and it helps us ensure that our public schools are serving all students well. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the method of assessing performance needs to be the exact same in every circumstance, but it does mean that a valid and reliable means of comparing various approaches and outcomes should be in place if different methods are to be utilized.

Investing in Success: When it comes to school funding, we must prioritize students over systems. Wherever possible, money should follow the child to the public school of their choice based on student characteristics as opposed to system characteristics. At the same time, we have historically focused far too much of our time and resources on schools and approaches that are not meeting the needs of our students and families. Far more beneficial and impactful would be targeted investments in proven models of success, particularly for some of our state’s most historically underserved students, so that those schools can expand and replicate to serve more children. We should no longer be content with simply investing more dollars in the same status quo systems.