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Parent Choice

Friday, December 14, 2018  
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December 14, 2018


Dear colleagues,


This month, we are celebrating parent choice and highlighting the many different values at stake when families exercise choice. In this letter, I want to share my own family’s experience.


As part of this theme, the League is launching the Quality School Map, an interactive tool to assist parents and other users in evaluating school choices in neighborhoods statewide. To learn more about the Quality School Map, see below. Our hope is that you share this information with others, test its capabilities, and join us in celebrating the many facets of school choice in Colorado.


Our son is seven years old. Over the past four years, we have enrolled him in preschool, kindergarten and 1st grade at several different schools. When my wife and I chose a school for our son this year, we decided to apply for the Mandarin Chinese immersion track at the Denver Language School (DLS).


Before applying through the Denver citywide enrollment process, we visited the school twice, attended the Chinese New Year celebration, and met with school leaders to learn about the program. We talked with staff at our neighborhood public school where our son completed kindergarten. We considered several other public schools – neighborhood, charter and magnet.


Although we knew that our decision would require a 1 ½ hour commute every day, we chose DLS for several reasons.


1. A Better Brain! By learning a second language at a young age, a child’s brain develops more connections and greater capacity. As our son grows through the most prolific brain development phases of his life, we want him to benefit from learning two diverse languages. When he reaches adulthood, our son will literally have a superior brain to ours. What greater gift can we give him?


2. Better Communication. Mandarin Chinese is a far different language than English linguistically and historically. Although a fluent Chinese speaker may know 8,000 characters, the language encompasses 50,000 characters. In comparison to English, it is extraordinarily expansive and complex. Thus, Chinese can support remarkably rich, sophisticated and nuanced expression. The origin of Chinese characters is visual, symbolic and historical – indicative of a very different world civilization. Young children who learn a second language develop a greater appreciation for myriad styles and forms of communication.


3. Cultural Fluency. The teachers in the Mandarin track at DLS are from mainland China or Taiwan. They bring with them their own personal experiences and professional acumen. Likewise, the family community and student body of DLS is very diverse socioeconomically and culturally. We want our son to gain appreciation for humanity, culture and heritage, which comes with such a diverse public school.


4. Life Opportunity. Mandarin Chinese is the most common language in the world. China is the second largest economy on earth. Although the U.S. and China are resetting relations right now, there is little doubt that, in the longer term, the two nations will become increasingly interdependent global powers. With the pace at which technology and industry are progressing, who knows what opportunities our son will have as a byproduct of his public education?


5. Performance. As DLS has expanded enrollment and its performance record has grown, it has become one of the highest achieving open-enrollment Denver public schools across subjects. Last year, DLS was the only school offered a vacant district facility by Denver Public Schools in recognition of its long-term needs and success. Measurable quality serving all students is important to our family.


In sharing our family’s school choice values, I am not proposing that DLS is the right school for every child. Rather, I firmly believe that a wide variety of quality, distinctive options is crucial to paving the way for individual success and fosters a more robust public education that supports continuous innovation, adaptation, and an ever-advancing view of quality.


My wife and I are convinced that DLS is right for our son at this time in his life. That is the beauty of creating and celebrating parental choice in our schools – it’s the right thing for parents AND it transforms public education. Our school doesn’t have to be perfect for every child. It just has to be a high-quality, contributing member of a dynamic, improving public sector that collectively serves every learner and family.


I hope you’ll join me in celebrating all of our high-quality public schools and all the parents who make these important choices. We need more distinctive, excellent charter schools to realize the vibrant sector of choice that every family in our state deserves.




Benjamin J. Lindquist


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