During Monday’s Kentucky Tonight show about charter schools, some comments were made about Kentucky’s Districts of Innovation (DOI) program. Some anti-charter folks have tried to claim DOIs eliminate the need for charter schools, but secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Hal Heiner quickly challenged that notion on the show.
Most tellingly, Sec. Heiner pointed out that the DOI program has been around since 2012, but after four years a whopping total of only 10 school districts among the 173 in Kentucky have ever entered the program.
Interestingly, some of those 10 DOIs were already known for better programs and innovation before the program ever started (see listing of all DOIs here).
For example, the Bluegrass Institute highlighted the Eminence Independent School District back in 2012 before the DOI program was really up and running. Eminence already was making amazing innovations for students. Perhaps the program has helped Eminence a bit more (hopefully), but this district mastered the art of seeking out better ways to educate long before DOI ever started.
On the other hand, the Jefferson County Public School District’s foray into the DOI program to date has to be summarized as something along the lines of a disaster.
Then, those first two JCPS innovation schools, Maupin Elementary and the Atkinson Academy, landed at and near the bottom, respectively, in the district in recent KPREP testing (see their math results here).
Both wound up as “Focus Schools” as well.
The situation is so bad that JCPS tried to quietly revamp its innovation program, but their attempted secrecy got busted by alert reporters in Louisville.
In any event, as of late 2016, with only 10 out of 173 school districts participating in DOI – less than six percent – there’s not much interest in innovating in Kentucky’s traditional public school system, at least as far as this program goes. Charter schools can’t help but do this better.