Colorado Springs School District 11 voted 6-1 last week to take a pass on a charter school proposed by former Dallas school superintendent Mike Miles, who also worked as superintendent for Harrison School District 2.
For Miles, the vote was a victory he and his colleagues celebrated. It means they can charter the new school under the Colorado Charter School Institute, which tends to be more charter friendly than board members elected to oversee the old one-size-fits-all school attendance-center model.
Underprivileged families with children, and students with special learning needs, have no greater ally than Miles. He dramatically improves outcomes everywhere he goes, with the teachers union establishment fighting him each step of the way. Given the sluggish and substandard performances of so many D-11 schools, one might expect school district members to welcome and embrace the anticipated school.
Miles — a graduate of West Point, the University of California-Berkeley, and Columbia — sees education as the greatest hope for children in poverty and other challenging circumstances. A former Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, Miles envisions a world in which low-income children have no fewer educational options than their peers in wealthy households. He yearns for a society with competition to address learning disabilities and challenges presented by a diverse array of students.
By emphasizing school competition, classroom results, and excellence among faculty, Miles turned around the struggling Dallas School District. When he left Colorado to take the Texas job in 2012, 40 of the Dallas district’s 222 schools ranked among the bottom 5 percent of schools in the state. Today, only three schools rank near the bottom and each is on its way up.
“Dallas ISD showed more improvement in academic outcome between 2011 and 2015 than any other large urban district in Texas … We called this the ‘Dallas Miracle,’ ” wrote Paul Haeberlen, COO of Education Resource Group, which conducted a comprehensive study on the upsurge in Dallas test results, graduation rates and other positive indicators achieved under Miles’ direction.
Miles plans to open a K-6 charter school at The Citadel mall called Coperni 3. It would be similar to his Academy of Advanced Learning, a 700-student charter he opened last year in Aurora.
By all measures, the Aurora school has benefited kids. During the 2017-18 school year, the Academy of Advanced Learning scored a 76 in the Colorado School Performance Framework test — the second-highest score among Aurora schools. The school outperformed other Aurora schools by an average of 10 points on the state’s Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers tests.
Miles hires the best teachers he can find and pays them substantially more than their peers at traditional public schools. He doesn’t pay based on years of service, or for certificates earned for continuing education. He rewards teachers for proven classroom results that improve prospects for kids.
Like his Aurora school, Coperni 3 will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., offering free child care and a variety of physical fitness activities.
Education will focus on “learning how to learn,” and on skills needed to compete in the economy of 2030. When Miles talks about schools, he speaks only of providing what can help children enjoy the full economic and personal satisfaction that comes with knowledge.
Disruptive agents of change ended slavery, school segregation, the energy crisis, the phone monopoly and more. Innovative education entrepreneurs such as Miles provide solutions for children trapped in underperforming schools.
We should applaud and assist them, or get out of their way.