Parents of over three million students have chosen charter schools as the best educational option for their children in the 16-17 school year. That’s a powerful endorsement of the charter model, which focuses on innovation, raising student academic achievement, and being responsive to individual students’ needs.

More than 300 charter schools opened across the country in the fall of 2016, bringing the number to over 6,900 charter schools now operating. We can be proud of our Kentucky legislators for their work in establishing law to allow Kentucky students to soon be included in these growing opportunities.

All parents have a fundamental right to school choice, regardless of zip code. The ability to choose schools that best meet students’ individual needs is not a right exclusive to the wealthy and will soon be a reality for our Lexington and Louisville parents as a step in the right direction for the Bluegrass State. Parents – not bureaucracies – should decide what’s best for their children.

Key charter school information. Did you know…


  • Public charter schools are governed by non-profit boards, comprised of interested community leaders and volunteers. These board members are motivated by the simple desire to support their local communities and to provide students with quality educational opportunities.
  • Charter school boards function transparently, with public meeting and schedules posted or published in their local communities. Parents and others may attend charter school board meetings which are open to the public.
  • Charter school boards enter into a charter contract with an authorizing entity. Here in Kentucky, that could be the Jefferson County of Fayette County local school district or the Louisville or Lexington Mayor’s Office. The board is held accountable to meeting the goals and expectations as established in the charter school contract.

Academic performance

  • For over 25 years, charter schools have offered innovation in school choice and education reform across the country. Charter school growth has continued to increase due to a successful track record in meeting individual students’ needs, particularly in high poverty districts. Charter schools have demonstrated that all students can achieve academic success, preparing them to succeed in their college, career and in life.
  • Some of the nation’s most successful schools are charters. Others – including dropout prevention and recovery schools, schools for children with autism, and schools focused on serving students with special education needs – provide the individual attention needed to overcome students’ unique barriers to learning.
  • When compared to all traditional public schools – including those in wealthy suburbs – charter performance is generally low. A fair comparison of charter schools to public schools in urban districts puts charter school performance in a favorable light, particularly with respect to individual student academic growth or as sometimes referred to as the “value- added” metric.
  • Focus on innovation in instructional delivery methods including blended learning opportunities, focus on math and science or the arts, special needs or gifted and talented programs when developing charter school academic models can lead to significant academic gains and improvement in individual student academic growth for our Kentucky students.


  • Charter schools are held to the ultimate accountability in that charter schools are a choice and parents who are dissatisfied with any aspect of a school’s performance can simple withdraw their children and enroll in another school.
  • Although charter schools are exempt from some state laws, they are subject to open meetings laws, they must hire highly-qualified teachers and they must administer the same standardized tests as traditional public schools.
  • Under state charter school laws and as stated in the charter school contract with the authorizing entity, charter schools that fail to meet academic expectations must close.


  • On a per pupil basis, average funding for charter school students is about two thirds of that provided to educate students enrolled in traditional public schools.
  • Charter schools – which have historically received no facilities funding – must stretch limited financial resources to cover the significant costs of constructing, renovating and maintaining school buildings. It’s rare that state budget allocations allow for charter school facilities funding.

Collaboration between charter and traditional public schools

  • Rather than pitting traditional and charter public schools against each other, our focus should be on how all schools can better serve all Kentucky students – including those who live in poverty.
  • Districts that may risk losing students to charter schools should engage in self-reflection:
  • What student/parent needs have they failed to address? What changes are needed to better meet the expectations of students and parents?
  • Districts should embrace the partnership to collaborate and work with local charters to align students’ needs and ensure that an appropriate model of education is utilized to best serve all students in our communities.

This article is published by Yvonne Adkins of Adkins & Company, a Kentucky-based consulting group whose mission is to position charter schools for success by providing boards, operators and authorizers with access to high quality services and expertise.