“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

A Pioneer for the Charter School Movement

The foundation and success of the charter school movement has been championed and led by numerous leaders over the years. However, the current status of the movement would not have been achieved without the visionary efforts and relentless dedication of trailblazers like Keith King.

Keith King (1948-2024) was a legislator, businessman, and education leader. He advocated and worked to increase public school choice in Colorado throughout his successful career.

Following the passage of the Charter Schools Act in 1993, which facilitated the creation of tuition-free public charter schools, he became the president of Cheyenne Mountain Charter Academy in 1995, where he also served on the school’s board from 1991 to 1995. He also contributed to the founding of another high-achieving charter school, James Irwin Charter High School.


Establishing the Colorado Charter School Institute

King was also an instrumental voice in proposing the bill that established the Colorado Charter School Institute (CSI).

In 2004, the Legislature created the State Charter School Institute in response to the growing demand for more charter schools, the desire for innovative models serving all students, and to provide an alternate mode of authorizing than the traditional district charter school authorizer. 

When reflecting on his work to help establish the bill, King stated, “It was the most fun I ever had in the whole time I was in the legislature…It was a great process.”

King’s Legacy in Education Reform and Legislative Influence

During his 16-year tenure in the State Legislature, King sponsored approximately 100 pieces of legislation primarily focused on improving K-12 education in Colorado and supporting the success of at-risk students.

“Keith’s education reform work was more than an interest or hobby. He recognized the potential of education and was convinced we could do better for our students and their families. He knew that a high-quality education gave individuals the ability to lift themselves out of challenging circumstances and help them become even more productive members of society,” shares Terrance Carroll, King’s longtime friend and colleague in the legislature. 

King served on the CSI board from 2006 to 2008, offering his detailed knowledge of charter school law. During his tenure on the CSI Board of Directors, Senator King and his fellow Board members established the foundation for the Institute’s success.

Expanding Educational Opportunities

In 2007, Senator King founded the highly successful Colorado Springs Early Colleges Charter School which has grown to become one of the state’s largest network of charter schools. CEC’s mission is: “Every student, regardless of background or skill level, will achieve mastery and will demonstrate that they can succeed in high school, in college, and in their chosen career…No exceptions. No excuses.” 

His vision for CEC expanded from one campus to additional campuses in Fort Collins, Parker, and Aurora before he retired in July 2018. He also advanced the cause of charter schools by serving on the Colorado League of Charter Schools’ board.

Honoring a Legacy

Governor Polis recently stated: “I was devastated to learn about the passing of Keith King. He dedicated his life to public service, whether it was his time in Colorado’s General Assembly, serving on Colorado Springs City Council, or helping more students access quality education through the creation of Colorado Early College.”

We are deeply appreciative of Keith King and all he accomplished for CSI and Colorado K-12 education. 

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