The new school at Morehead, the Craft Academy for Excellence in Science and Mathematics, will offer a resident campus for top-performing high school juniors and seniors, much like an existing school at Western Kentucky University. While enrollment will be small (about 60 students per class), the new Morehead school will slightly improve chances for top-performing students across the commonwealth to get a really good public education they need but cannot find in their local school system. Funded by a combination of state and private grants, the Craft Academy could be well-positioned to offer competition to Kentucky’s existing statewide “charter-like magnet, the Gatton Academy at Western Kentucky University.
So, my big question is, why doesn’t every public university in Kentucky have a similar program? Right now college professors tell me many students attend schools that don’t even offer all the courses needed to enter careers in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM). Why should a student’s place of residence essentially eliminate their opportunity to do something demanding with their lives? I’m thrilled that sixty more kids a year will get that opportunity, but with class sizes running around 45,000 or so in Kentucky, we clearly are not tapping anything close to the amazing potential in our state’s young citizens.
One of the big success stories in Kentucky education is been the Gatton Academy at Western Kentucky University. This school also offers a residential high school campus for a few of the state’s very brightest students. Gatton is been top rated in national surveys and certainly does offer its small complement of students a great opportunity that most Kentucky public school students will never enjoy.
And, because Gatton follows unique rules and accepts students from every school district, it functions in many ways like a charter school, offering a choice option, though only to a few of our very best students.
Until now, Gatton was about the only school like this in Kentucky (the Model Laboratory School at Eastern Kentucky University is somewhat like Gatton, but I don’t believe it is a resident school so attendance is practically limited to students within commuting distance). It will be fun to watch the Gatton – Craft competition develop, and our kids can only benefit from this increased school choice option.