Head of Education and Workforce Development Cabinet wants to use other states as examples in crafting charter school program in Kentucky

12/29/2016 12:16 PM

Kentucky is one of seven states without charter school programs, and Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Hal Heiner says he hopes that changes when lawmakers return to Frankfort for the 2017 legislative session Jan. 3.

With 43 examples to craft a charter school program here, Heiner says he doesn’t see the need to implement a pilot program for the new schools, as has been laid out in previous legislative proposals that have been opposed by the Kentucky Education Association and the Democrat-led House of Representatives.

Republicans in Kentucky have generally touted charter schools as a way to curb achievement gaps that exist in public schools, and a program looks poised to pass the General Assembly with the GOP holding supermajorities in both chambers after taking the House in a 17-seat swing on Election Day.

Heiner said statistics show disadvantaged students operating at about 30 percent proficiency at grade level compared to 70 percent proficiency for others in the school system.

“What we have been looking for is how can we close that gap, eliminate that gap that’s really unconscionable and immoral, and I think for Kentucky to be great, we need all those individuals prepared for their most fulfilled life,” Heiner said in an interview with Pure Politics this month (2:20 in the interview).

“Charter schools have been the one form of education that has reliably, consistently shown great improvements, especially in urban centers.”

Heiner says he expects charter schools will have the same level of accountability and transparency as their public school peers, with more on the line since charters can be revoked.

Kentucky has a “tremendous advantage” over other states because officials here can learn from the successes and mistakes of others when crafting a charter school program, he said.

“My focus is not on a pilot,” Heiner said (5:00 in the interview). “Let’s pick the best examples in the country, and, you know, they’ve been out there for two decades. Let’s pick those, adopt that in Kentucky so we have the best chance for success.”

Watch the full interview with Heiner here:


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