‘Legalize School Choice’ drive: One politician should not keep public charter schools out of Kentucky
(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) — Today the Bluegrass Institute kicks off a campaign designed to convince parents in some of Kentucky’s most failing districts that their children’s freedom to learn is being held up by one man in Frankfort – the House Education Committee chairman.
“For several years now, solid legislation has been filed in Frankfort that would give Kentucky parents the option of sending their children to a public charter school — a choice available to families in 42 other states and even the District of Columbia, and for years the House Education Committee chairman has stood squarely in the way,” saidBluegrass Institute President Jim Waters. “Neither previous chairman Carl Rollins norcurrent chairman Derrick Graham have the right to deny all parents in an entire state the right to escape failing schools and provide a better future for their children.”
Beginning in September and continuing through the start of next year’s legislative session, the institute will work with public charter-school supporters and school choice coalitions to educate parents by distributing “Legalize School Choice” fliers in their neighborhoods each month leading up to the 2014 session of the Kentucky General Assembly.
“We often hear that children have avenues for choice but I’m not buying it,” said Bluegrass Institute education analyst Richard G. Innes. “Just ask parents who are trying to get their children out of the JCPS school district and into Oldham County. According to a 2011 WAVE3 report, ‘The school system has investigated 83 students and their parents for lying about where they live.’”
September’s flier, which can be seen here, asks: “Is your child free to learn?” It offers the number that all citizens can call – (800) 372-7181 – to urge their elected officials in Frankfort to demand that Chairman Graham allow a vote on charter schools.
“Charter schools have been in existence for more than 20 years in the United States, and are providing a quality education for many of our nation’s most at-risk students from poor homes,” Innes said. “It is time school choice was legalized in Kentucky.”
Support for public charter schools among Kentuckians is strong:
- A Courier-Journal poll in February found that 65 percent of respondents support public charter schools in Kentucky.
- A survey by Harper Polling in April found 72 percent of Kentuckians would support a law that allows schools that perform poorly year after year to reorganize as public charter schools.
- A survey of several hundred black Kentucky families released by the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) found that more than half would send their children to a different public school than the one to which they are currently assigned if given a choice.
- BAEO’s survey also found that the more Kentucky black families knew about public charter schools, the stronger their support.
Public charter schools are publicly funded schools that are independently managed. They are free from many of the stifling rules and regulations that often hinder traditional public school teachers and administrators. In exchange for this freedom, public charter schools must attain a higher level of academic performance in order to remain open.
Over 2 million students currently attend more than 6,000 public charter schools nationwide.
For more information, contact Bluegrass Institute education analyst Richard G. Innes at email@example.com or (859) 466-8198, or president Jim Waters firstname.lastname@example.org or (270) 782-2140.