Some see charter schools being the answer for low-income, low-performing students in public schools

11/10/2014 05:54 PM

Legislators on Kentucky’s Education Committee heard testimony on Monday from advocates on charter schools and how minorities can benefit from the education system.

Wayne Lewis, chair of the Kentucky Charter Schools Association, told the Interim Joint Committee on Education that charter schools give low-income families a choice if their students’ needs are not being met by the public school that they are attending.

Lewis singled out elementary school math score statistics in Fayette County from the 2012 / 2013 school year as an example of how minority students are struggling in many of the public schools.

“61.1 percent of white children in Fayette County scored at the proficient or distinguished level on the K-PREP assessment,” Lewis told the committee. “26.9 percent of African-American children scored at the proficient or distinguished level.”

While the committee did not have anyone speaking in opposition to the concept of charter schools on Monday the idea has been heard in Frankfort for the past several years with teachers unions coming out against the legislation.

The arguments against charter schools are varied, but most voicing teachers unions voicing opposition in the past include talking points on how charter schools are set-up by businesses as for-profit models. A wide variety of charters have made their way across the nation with varied results.

The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Dave Adkisson said most of his members support including charter schools as an option for Kentucky students, and the best argument he’s heard is that mixed bag.

“You know, the best argument that I’ve heard against charter schools is that the research is mixed,” Adkisson said. “If my child or my grandchild was stuck either by a family economic situation or racial situation in a persistently underperforming school, I would gamble on mixed results every time.

Rep. Jim DeCesere, R-Bowling Green, says that most teacher organizations, who oppose charter schools, have too much influence in determining the education path in Kentucky.

“Until legislators stand up and defend the young people and quit being afraid of the “K groups” – they don’t need to control our education destiny in Kentucky,” DeCesere said.

The argument for and against charter schools has been ongoing in the state General Assembly for a number of years.

Forty-two states plus the District of Columbia have enacted charter school laws. The seven states besides Kentucky which have no charter schools are Alabama, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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