As we mentioned in earlier blogs such as here, President Obama and US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan are stressing that states that want a part of the more than $4 billion second-tier education stimulus money, known as the “Race to the Top Fund,” have to meet some conditions. One mentioned frequently is “increasing the supply of high-quality charter schools.”
Kentucky doesn’t even have charter schools let alone any plans to increase their numbers, but education leaders here said that wouldn’t leave us “out” because our School Based Decision Making Councils (SBDM) were a suitable substitute.
Well, the word now circulating in education circles here is the SBDM ruse isn’t going to fly.
I guess the feds figured out the obvious – real charter schools are nothing like Kentucky’s SBDM schools.
Real charters are important incubators of education reforms because they are released from compliance with the huge number of onerous regulations that burden regular schools, SBDM schools included.
That doesn’t mean the charters can run amuck, however. Real charters have a local chartering organization, a university for example, that provides up close and personal oversight while allowing the freedom to move out quickly on new ideas.
The chartering organization often provides lots of support beyond oversight, as well. And, that help is custom-tailored to that specific school’s needs.
No Frankfort-dominated program such as our SBDM system can ever hope to match such local oversight and flexibility.
So, watch out for changes to positions about charter schools in Kentucky. With a share, maybe a significant share, of $4 billion plus hanging in the balance, the discussion about charter schools for the Bluegrass State is definitely heating up.
State Representative Stan Lee has already pre-filed a bill to bring charters to Kentucky, and even some Kentucky educators actually are starting to say this might be a good piece of legislation. Furthermore, because the second-tier education money will be awarded in two phases, a quick passage of a charter bill early in the next legislative session might help Kentucky in the “Race to the Top.”