Dozens of schools in districts across Colorado apply for vouchers under new program.

WASHINGTON – Under the Colorado voucher program that Gov. Bill Owens (R) signed into law last spring, dozens of private schools in districts all across the state have filed applications to accept vouchers from students enrolled there. The voucher program provides school choice to 20,000 Colorado students in 11 school districts with schools that have low academic performance ratings.

Like the federal voucher proposal for Washington D.C., voucher proponents and parents have high hopes that a market in education will give students a chance for a good education. Voucher proponents believe that success in Colorado and D.C. could be a catalyst for change all across the country.

"One of the arguments that voucher opponents always trot out is that private schools will not be able to handle the additional students that would come their way under a voucher program," said Grover Norquist, President of Washington D.C.-based Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). "As private schools in Colorado are demonstrating, they welcome new students and want to offer them a chance at a good education that would otherwise be denied those students if they were forced to remain in failing government schools."

Wednesday marked the deadline when private schools could apply to accept voucher students. 81 private schools in Denver filed applications with Denver Public Schools, while Aurora Public Schools and Jefferson County Public Schools (Denver suburbs) received 55 and 38 applications, respectively.

Among other districts, application counts were: Westminster schools with 37, St. Vrain Valley schools with at least 29, Colorado Springs District 11 with 25, Pueblo District 60 with 17, and Greeley District 6 with 15.

"Parents all across the country should look to Colorado\’s example and pressure their governor\’s and state legislatures to do the same," continued Norquist. "Gov. Owens and Colorado\’s legislature realize the benefits of a market in education, which is the only way to ensure that schools are held accountable. Success in Colorado could spark a push for vouchers all across the country and finally give students an opportunity for a better education, an opportunity denied them for too long."