Jeb Bush says charter schools can bolster education

07/27/2010 02:36 PM

(WITH VIDEO) LOUISVILLE — Improving education means allowing families a choice of learning opportunities, including encouraging charter schools, former Florida Republican Gov. Jeb Bush told hundreds of state legislators at their conference in Louisville Tuesday.

While Kentucky’s law doesn’t allow for charter schools, legislation to change that gained momentum during the final weeks of Kentucky’s last legislative session this spring and was re-introduced during a one-week special session this summer. The legislation failed each time.

Part of the reason state lawmakers have been in a rush to allow charter schools is getting federal Race to the Top money, part of President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan. Kentucky was a finalist in the first round of the program, but was not of one two states to receive money, which went to Tennessee and Delaware. One reason, Kentucky education officials said, was because the state had no charter schools as the U.S. Department of Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, has wanted to see. Tennessee, which has charter schools, did receive the first round funding of $300 million.

Tuesday afternoon, Kentucky was named a finalist for the next pot of Race to the Top funding. Kentucky joins 17 others states and Washington D.C. in made it to the second round of this process, which will be decided in September.

After explaining how Florida went from one of the worst states when it came to education to one of the best, Bush laid out five steps to how education can improve in every state. He also said Florida’s program of vouchers to private schools, charter schools and virtual learning has created a system of competition with the usual public and private schools in the state.

‑ Reporting and video produced by Kenny Colston

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