Charter school advocates' pitch to legislators: 'Go bold' and scores could rise

09/10/2013 09:04 AM

Proponents of charter schools in Kentucky made their next round of arguments in advance of the 2014 legislative session this week by touting how charter schools could help raise the state’s college readiness scores.

But Democratic legislators on the Interim Joint Committee on Education Monday remained unconvinced.

The latest results of ACT test results show that just 17 percent of Kentucky high school students and only 5 percent of African Americans meet all ACT benchmarks for college readiness, as the advocates pointed out at Monday’s meeting.

Ken Campbell, president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, said charter schools have never been more needed as an option to help turn that around.

“The problems that are going on with our kids in education today is our fault as adults,
we have the responsibility,” said Campbell.

While supporters say charter schools could help improve overall college readiness for students, but they acknowledged that it won’t fix everything.

“We’re not here because we believe that charter schools will fix all of our problems,” said Wayne Lewis, Jr. of the Kentucky Charter School Association. “We do believe the passage of charter school legislation here will give us the opportunity to deal with some of these pressing issues.”

Charter schools could be particularly advantageous for students with developmental needs as well as ones with little or no support at home, said Hal Heiner, chairman of the Kentucky Charter School Association and the former Louisville mayoral candidate.

“By an innovative form of education that meets that child exactly where they are, we see incredible success rates at schools focused on the particular needs of that child,” said Hal Heiner, chairman of the Kentucky Charter Schools Association.

But some member of the committee, such as Rep. Reginald Meeks, D-Louisville, questioned a perceived lack of support for charter schools among Kentucky’s current teachers.

“The problem I’m having is I’m not hearing educators coming to us and saying that we want charter schools,” said Meeks.

Kentucky is one of eight states that haven’t enact a public charter school law.


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