Fact: After eight years of passing charter policy through the Kentucky Senate exclusively to watch it die in the House, our Commonwealth became the 44th state to offer charters as a publicly funded option for educating our children.
Most are concerned charters could siphon off state and federal funding public schools depend on to survive.
Supporters of the bill, including Rep. Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City), say charter schools allow students in failing public schools to go to a school that is providing a better education.
State Republicans, who won supermajorities in both houses in the November 2016 election, delivered the bill to Bevin just one month after House Education Committee Chairman John Carney introduced it.
Forty-one percent of the state’s “needs improvement” schools are in counties with no private school alternatives. It also determined that the number of groups allowed to authorize charters in states doesn’t correlate with the sector’s growth. States that still do not have charter schools include North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Vermont, West Virginia, and Nebraska. They are also not to have a particular religious affiliation.
During the debate, Democrats raised questions over whether the bill would allow for-profit companies to apply to form charter schools, despite assurances that it wouldn’t. “Poor people don’t. They’re stuck with the school based on district boundaries”.
In the debate Wednesday, House Speaker Todd Richardson proposed an amendment that he said would add accountability to the charter process.
One of our top priorities in the Senate this session was Senate Bill (SB) 1, which is created to “let teachers teach” by mirroring the Federal “Every Student Succeeds Act” to foster state and local decision making by our valued educators.
Over the last eight years, the Paducah school district has seen a decline in state funding. “Additionally, the concern is when they close, students have to move to another school and reach supports stability in education, not transiency (movement)”. Other projects, such as veterinary and optometry education, will also receive funds through this bill.
“If a school is successful – its April is 90 or better – there’s absolutely no reason whatsoever to introduce that competition or those options into that district if they’re being successful”, he said.
Students could not cross district lines to attend charter schools, unless the districts have an agreement that allows it (as in the case of a regional charter). Documents distributed at a school board planning meeting said that with the process, Fayette County Schools would be prepared for charter school legislation. The only exception would be unless the charter school has a mission designed for at-risk students.
House Bill 296 would reduce the expenses paid by Kentucky’s workers’ compensation program at the request of insurers and businesses, angering worker advocates, who say labor was left out of the bill. “There are a lot of unknowns and I wish there had been more study”.
Opinion: Charters privatize education, give power to far off corporations at the expense of our local decision makers and “cherry pick” only the best students.
Critics argued that could have a negative impact on districts that perform well as a whole but have one, low-performing building. In addition, a Kentucky public charter can adopt any and all of the regulations of current schools if they wish.
“Relatively speaking”, he said, “quality has been a serious objective for charter school leaders in the state”. But public charter schools would be held to numerous same standards involving criminal background checks for staff, open records and the student instructional year as traditional public schools.
“What some independent superintendents and I were working with legislators on was inter-district student transfers”, Walker said. “No”, he said. “A charter school can be the answer for that child or that parent who has been trapped in a really, really awful school district”.
Any loss of state aid will hurt, especially in an era when funding continues to dwindle, according to Boyd County Superintendent Brock Walter. Walker continued, “because we have three good school systems that parents could choose from that would more appropriately address their children’s specific needs”.