At-risk students need innovative approaches that public charter schools bring, group says

01/11/2012 07:34 AM

Failing schools and an inability for the current education system to engage at-risk students means the time is right to try public charter schools, says Louisville businessman and former mayoral candidate Hal Heiner.

Heiner has founded and helped bankroll a group called Kentuckians Advocating Reform in Education aimed at raising awareness about charter schools. The group began running a TV ad last week.

Heiner, who narrowly lost the 2010 Louisville mayor’s race, said on Pure Politics on Monday that areas with high numbers of students at risk of dropping out need more options.

That means schools that would be free of the traditional education rules, including the school calendar.

“It’s a much longer school day, a longer school week and a longer school year,” Heiner said (3:05). “… It’s a much more rigorous academic environment.”

Despite several bills floating around in the state legislature to allow charter schools, Heiner said he and his group aren’t pushing for any particular one of them.

This debate will only heat up on Wednesday as Heiner will participate in a panel discussion with Robert Rodosky, Jefferson County Public Schools executive director of accountability, research and planning, and Brent McKim of the Jefferson County Teachers Association at the Louisville Forum at noon at Vincenzo’s Restaurant.

But some education leaders have resisted the concept.

House Education Committee Chairman Carl Rollins, D-Midway, said he’s concerned the creation of charter schools will drain resources from already struggling schools.

- With additional reporting from Nick Storm in Frankfort

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