The Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky’s first and only free-market think tank, joins with hundreds of groups nationwide to celebrate the fifth annual National School Choice Week (Jan. 25-31). Since its beginning more than 11 years ago, the Bluegrass Institute has been the leading voice to give Kentucky parents effective alternatives to ensure that each child receives a quality education. As part of National School Choice Week, the Bluegrass Institute will publish a series of blogs offering information on different types of school choice. This series will be one of 6,000 events nationwide taking place as part of this year’s National School Choice Week.
Today, we offer this snapshot of public charter schools:
- Popular. The most popular form of school choice nationwide. Forty-two states have charter school laws that serve more than 2.1 million students.Kentucky does not offer this option to parents.
- Public. Charter schools are publicly funded and must be open to all who apply, including special needs students.
- Local. Most charter schools are designed by educators, parents or civic leaders and focus on specific areas, such as “math and science” or “the arts.”
- Chosen. No student is assigned to, or forced to attend, a charter school. All charter-school students are enrolled by a parent or legal guardian, who choose to send them to that school.
- Innovative. Charter schools are not bound by many of the regulations – including collective-bargaining agreements – that hamper quality education in traditional public schools.
- Accountable. Charter schools must meet the same test-score and teacher-qualification requirements as their districts’ traditional public schools. In fact, charters in most cases promise to outperform their traditional public schools within five years.
- Bipartisan. A majority of students enrolled in public charter schools nationwide are eligible for the federal free-or-reduced-price lunch program. Most are from low-income and minority homes; it’s not a right-wing conspiracy.
“I believe public education is the new civil rights battle and I support charter schools. —Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-New York
For more information on public charter schools, read the Bluegrass Institute’s recent online debate here.