Kentucky Tonight’s February 3, 2014 show was all about Charter Schools.
The debate was lively, but cordial. Along the way, some pretty “interesting” comments were made, some revealing a remarkable lack of understanding of the real level of educational performance in this state.
One of those “interesting” comments came around six minutes into the show when State Representative Marylou Marzian (D – Louisville) said, “We have excellent public schools in this state and especially in Jefferson County where I’m from.”
To be sure, Jefferson County does have a few outstanding schools like Louisville Male High School, but Male is a highly competitive magnet school.
However, Marzian really was trying to say that there is no need for charter schools because Kentucky’s traditional public schools generally are doing just fine.
Well, that’s just plain wrong. And, the show’s viewers didn’t have to wait long to hear about that.
Sobering facts about the real situation across Kentucky and in Jefferson County were brought out a few minutes later by UK professor Dr. Wayne Lewis.
Lewis pointed out:
“On our KPREP Middle School Reading Assessment here in Kentucky, 2012-2013 numbers, we have about 51 percent of all students that are scoring either at the Proficient or Distinguished level. That’s all students. In Jefferson County, that number is 42 percent of all kids in Jefferson County. At the state level, 54 percent of white students are scoring Proficient or Distinguished, and at the state level in comparison 30 percent of African-American students. If we break that down to Jefferson County, 52 percent of white Jefferson County kids are Proficient or Distinguished in reading, 27 percent of African-American kids in Jefferson County.”
Lewis added a bit later,
“To suggest that public schooling in Kentucky is doing everything right, to suggest that we don’t have these very real, very significant problems and that we don’t need to look outside of what we’ve always done for alternatives – it’s just not true.”
And, Lewis is absolutely dead on target when we are talking about Louisville, where nearly half of all the state’s Persistently Low-Achieving Schools (recently renamed “Priority Schools”) are found.
Lewis could have added a lot more (I do some of that in the Read More section of this post), but his point is well-taken. Kentucky’s traditional public school system continues to have major problems, and those who continue to deny that are not doing our children any favors.
In addition, with Kentucky about to celebrate the 24th anniversary of aggressive education reform since the passage of KERA in 1990, the continued low performance of our traditional school system cries out for better alternatives like public charter schools, which are starting to show really positive impacts in states which have strong charter school laws and charter management programs.