You don't have to be President of the United States to trigger earth moving change.
If you doubt that, take the case of the Douglas County School Board. In 2009, a cabal of top shelf conservative thinkers, leaders, movers and shakers decided that they wanted more from their local schools.
They waged a fierce and at times controversial race to evict school board members who had become cozy with the failed educational status quo. The unions fought them at every turn. It was the rare school board election that received significant statewide and national attention.
Now it is becoming a rare school board election that was about something profound. Real education reform.
After being hailed at a national education conference in Denver last month for another innovative reform, the Douglas County school board has embarked on a cutting edge voucher, or scholarship, program.
This groundbreaking program has caught the eye of observers across the nation, even drawing an editorial attack from the LA Times:
Public schooling is, at least in theory, the great equalizer and meritocracy, in which hardworking, committed students have an equal chance to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to accomplish great things. Using public money to support a fragmented private school model with vastly unequal offerings is not the way to build a stronger educational system.
Perhaps the presumptuous purveyors of liberalism at the LA Times harbor the grand aspiration that every school district across the fruited plain trap young men and women in a public school sewer like their own LA unified school district. Forgive Douglas County residents and their school board for seeing the matter a little differently.
The major newspaper editorial board from Colorado strongly supports the school board's decision:
Traditional public schools, no matter how fine they might be, don't have all of the answers for all of the children…While we believe strongly in traditional public schools, the tremendous challenges facing this country in education need to be answered with innovation and choice.
We'd call that a conservative win — an attack from coastal liberals fighting for more of the same, but support from a reform minded editorial board who is paying closer attention.
Most importantly, as the Denver Post reports the program is finding overwhelming support from parents:
“By the time exhausted office staffers went home Wednesday evening, they had logged more than 400 calls from parents wanting to get in on the program.”
The school district has one of the highest parental satisfaction rates in the country, leading defenders of stagnation and the status quo to complain there is no reason to institute a voucher program.
Douglas County schools didn't achieve their greatness by sticking with the status quo. Parents already have the option of nine charter schools, two online programs or home schooling. Choice and competition have strengthened the schools, not hampered them. The results speak for themselves.
Educational choice has been a resounding success for Douglas County students. The conservative board members want to extend that success with more choice. The CEA wanted less choice, but more control for itself.
This is a familiar and tired argument taking place between retrenchment and reform. But this time the Douglas County school board is taking their mandate and spending that political capital wisely on groundbreaking educational transformation.
The failed and failing forces of educational stagnation have lost, and the Douglas County regiment of reform has the winds and parents at their back.
Watch for more great things to come out of Douglas County schools, just don't expect to hear about their successes in the Colorado "Independent" or other leftist rags.