Charter School Legislative Hearing – a great introductory quote

“Have you ever noticed that the people who speak in opposition to charter schools tend to represent those who are employed by school systems, while those who speak in favor of charter schools represent the students? Makes you wonder, just which group do the schools exist to serve: employees or students?”  

Rich Gimmel, President of Atlas Machine & Supply, Inc., commenting on Courier-Journal coverage of the February 14, 2012 Kentucky House Education Committee hearing on charter schools.

Mr. Gimmel’s quote provides a great introduction to a series of planned blogs on charter school developments. That series will focus on a historic first hearing on charter schools held yesterday in the Kentucky House’s Education Committee. While a charter bill has previously been discussed in the Kentucky Senate, this hearing opened new ground for the Kentucky House.

Mr. Gimmel’s great comments certainly apply to yesterdays hearing. Opponents who spoke against charters included the head of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents, three public school classroom teachers and another former classroom teacher who currently serves as president of the Kentucky Education Association, the statewide teachers’ union.

The final naysayer was a college professor, not a public-school person. However, he’s a fellow at the National Education Policy Center (NEPC), which has published a lot of this professor’s work, including numerous articles on charter schools. Though it specifically was not mentioned during the introduction of this college professor during the hearing, the NEPC accepts major funding from the National Education Association (NEA) and another organization, the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice, which is supported by the NEA and other teachers’ unions in several north-central states.

So, Mr. Gimmel’s observations track pretty well with what happened at the hearing yesterday. The opponents did tend to represent school-system employees or related personnel. That makes me want to reiterate Gimmel’s question:

“Just which group do the schools exist to serve: employees or students?”

As this discussion continues, that question – and what really seems to be motivating people in the discussion – need to be foremost on everyone’s mind.

Stay tuned as we provide some specific comments and videos from the two-hour discussion.