Charter Schools Movement State Timeline
The 1993 Colorado chartering legislation was authored by Democratic Representative Peggy Kerns and Republican Senator (and later Governor) Bill Owens. These transcripted conversations will help others to better understand why chartering came to be and why it passed in Colorado.
Jefferson County School District Board supports the Open Living School, an option school offering self-directed learning focused on the whole child.
Jefferson County School District Board formally adopts an alternative education policy.
Jefferson County School District Board supports a program focused on “fundamental learning skills and basic knowledge.” In 1978 three locations were combined to form Dennison Fundamental School.
In 1974 Richard Lamm (D) was elected Governor of Colorado.
Arnie Langberg, Principal of Mountain Open High School, hosts an "unconvention" with 270 alternative education supporters in attendance. The momentum from the meeting launched a non-profit, Colorado Options in Education.
Denver Public Schools opens Knight Fundamental School, a magnet school.
The Reagan administration releases "A Nation at Risk" to warn the public about the mediocrity of the nation's public schools.
National Governors Association (NGA) hires Joe Nathan, former inner-city teacher and administrator from Minnesota, to coordinate a project known as “Time for Results."
Colorado Governor Richard Lamm co-chairs NGA “Parent Involvement and Choice Task Force.”
Governor Lamm hosts a task force meeting in the Colorado state capitol building about public school choice.
Roy Romer (D) is elected governor of Colorado.
Senator Al Meiklejohn (R) and Representative Dick Bond (D) successfully pass Senate Bill 56 to expand homeschool freedoms.
Representative Jeanne Faatz (R) introduces “intra-and inter-district open enrollment” legislation.
Independence Institute, a Colorado free-market think tank, holds the regional “Western States Education Summit: Better Schools Through Wider Choice.”
1989, 90, 91: Senators Terry Considine (R) and Bill Owens (R) introduce a “school renewal” bill to provide a way for parents and teachers to reorganize an existing school or to establish a new public school within a school district.
September 20-23, 1989: Denver-based Gates Family Foundation hosts a conference in Keystone, Colorado entitled "Public Education: A Shift in the Breeze." Eighty-four percent of attendees support self-governing schools.
Representative Faatz introduces a bill providing only intra-district open enrollment. The bill dies but is woven into the 1990 School Finance Act during a conference committee.
June 4, 1991: The Governor of Minnesota signs an education bill that includes the creation of charter schools.
Early 1990s: Colorado's Democratic Party influencers begin to gather at the Piton Foundation to discuss charter schools.
1991: Denver Public Schools opens Denver School of the Arts, a magnet school.
September 1991: Senator Considine introduces a bill entitled “State Chartered Public Schools.” It aims to authorize individuals to apply to the Colorado State Board of Education to establish a public school chartered by the state.
1992: Representative John James Irwin (R) introduces House Bill (HB) 1299 entitled “The Establishment of the Colorado Independent Public School District,” the first "charter-like" bill to pass out of one chamber.
March 1992: President of the Children's campaign, Barbara O'Brien, writes an opinion editorial in support of HB 1299.
September 20, 1992: Governor of California signs a state charter school bill into law.
December 10, 1992: House sponsor of the proposed 1993 charter school legislation, Representative Irwin, suddenly dies.
December 1992: Representative Peggy Kerns (D) offers to join Senator Owens as a primary sponsor of the 1993 charter school legislation.
December 18, 1992: Organized by Barbara O’Brien and David D’Evelyn, co-founder of Independence Institute, a conference entitled “Charter Schools: Discovering What Will Work for Colorado" solidifies bipartisan support for a charter school law. Both Minnesota’s Ted Kolderie and California’s Senator Gary Hart (D) speak at the conference.
February 4, 1993: Senate Bill (SB) 183, entitled "Charter Schools," spends its first of five days in the Senate Education Committee. Three of the five days include testimony.
March 18, 1993: The heavily amended SB 183 leaves the Senate Education Committee.
April 21, 1993: The Senate passes SB 183.
May 6, 1993: Closer to the version of the introduced bill, SB 183 passes the House by one vote.
May 8 and 9, 1993: A conference committee is called to sort out the differences between the two versions of SB 183.
May 11, 1993: The House readopts SB 183. The Senate approves the bill an hour later.
May 25, 1993: Returning from a meeting in Durango, Colorado about a future charter school, David D’Evelyn and CDE official James Scamman die in a small airplane crash.
June 3, 1993: Governor Romer signs the “Colorado Charter Schools Act” into law.
September 10, 1993: Connect School in Pueblo County Rural District 70 is the first charter school to open.
Early 1994: The Colorado League of Charter Schools is formed.
Bill Owens (R) is elected Governor of Colorado.
September 13, 1999: The Colorado Supreme Court upholds the Colorado State Board of Education’s authority to order local school boards to approve a charter school.
2000-2004: There are 100 charter school appeals to the Colorado State Board of Education.
February 12, 2004: Representative Terrance Carroll (D) and Senator Peter Groff (D) introduce HB 1362 entitled “Colorado Charter School Institute,” a state chartering authority.
April 16, 2004: HB 1362 passes the Senate.
June 3, 2004: Governor Owens signs the “Charter School Institute Act” into law.
October 5, 2009: The Charter School Institute’s constitutionality is upheld when the Colorado Supreme Court refuses to hear an appeal from Boulder Valley School District.
Submitted by Pamela Benigno, Director, Independence Institute's Education Policy Center. Sources: On the Road of Innovation: Colorado’s Charter School Law Turns 20, by Pamela Benigno and Kyle Morin, Independence Institute. Expanding Frontiers in Public Education, Colorado Charter School Institute.