Far too many Kentucky kids are mired today in high schools that are not meeting their needs. These students often lose hope and often drop out. In some of the state’s most challenging high schools, the situation is so bad that studies by Johns Hopkins University actually label the schools as “dropout factories.”
Meanwhile, charter high schools in other states are starting to turn in remarkably good results. These charters are still public high schools, but they are freed from a lot of the red tape that often prevents regular high schools from succeeding with today’s students.
A recent example of the power of charter high schools comes from Providence, Rhode Island. The Providence Journal’s news blog reports two inner city charter high schools named Times2 Academy and Textron Chamber of Commerce Academy “maxed” their graduation rates at 100 percent in the latest Rhode Island state report. That exceeds the rate at the city’s most competitive secondary school and even surpassed performance at the suburban Barrington High School.
How did they do it? Smaller classes, individual attention and flexible schedules that allow kids to work and still study effectively seem to be part of the answer. But the real key is that without a lot of red tape restrictions, both of the Providence charter high schools are free to do whatever creative things they need to in order to accommodate their customers – the students.
Unfortunately for us, charter schools can only be created when the state specifically allows them, and that is a law Kentucky currently lacks.
However, at least two charter school bills are already pre-filed for the 2010 legislative session, and people who never knew the term before are now talking about charter schools frequently. For the sake of our kids, let’s hope the legislature votes in 2010 to give them the sort of advantage that kids in Providence already enjoy.