KY Youth Advocates director says bipartisan education solutions are possible

01/17/2011 07:29 PM

The makings for key changes to Kentucky’s education system could be in the works if Republicans and Democrats can embrace each other’s proposals, a children’s advocate said.

Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, said on Pure Politics that some of the proposals pushed by lawmakers are pieces of reforms that are helping to revamp education systems in other states, including Indiana.

For example, Republican Sen. Ken Winters of Murray has pushed legislation that would allow advanced students to graduate early. And Republican Sen. Jack Westwood of Crescent Springs has filed legislation, Senate Bill 36, aimed at helping guide students at-risk of dropping out through paths that would get them through a technical college program.

Some Democrats, meanwhile, want to pass a bill that would raise the dropout age from 16 to 18. Rep. Jeff Greer, D-Brandenburg, is pushing for that with the backing of Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear.

But Brooks said more must be done than just raise the age. Kentucky needs to improve alternative programs that are created to help guide at-risk students.

Brooks said Indiana, under the leadership of Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, has had some innovative reforms that Kentucky could use as a blueprint.

And he said part of the discussion must include charter schools, which several lawmakers are pushing this year. A charter school would be set up by an organization, often with a specific purpose or focus, similar to a magnet school. They would have to follow some — but not all — state guidelines.

- Ryan Alessi


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