Today is an important day in our State’s history. The Senate passed H.B. 520 to allow public charter schools in the State of Kentucky. The bill was passed by the State House on March 3rd and after a concurrence vote in the House, it goes to Gov. Bevin’s desk for signature.
Gov. Bevin spoke in support of the bill introduced by Rep. Bam Carney to improve Kentucky’s system of public education through the offering of school choice. H.B. 520 allows for the establishment of public charter schools, which have been proven to help countless students succeed in other states across the country.
Kentucky is among the last holdouts as one of only seven states without laws that allow for public charter schools. Though some have tried to protect the status quo by opposing H.B. 520, Carney has been spot on in his focus on meeting the needs of every individual student.
The majority of Kentucky’s K-12 public school students are well served by their traditional district schools. But education isn’t a “one size fits all” model. The State of Kentucky has an obligation to meet the needs of all students, including those for whom the best educational option is a charter school.
Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Hal Heiner deserves much credit as a champion for charter schools here in the Bluegrass State. He has stressed the benefit of public charter schools across urban centers throughout states offering school choice and has spoken of the ability of charter schools to lessen the academic achievement gap experienced in our state.
The bad news is that Kentucky students’ options have been so limited for so long.
The good news is that embracing charter schools so late in the game allows Kentucky’s policy-makers to learn from and address problems that have occurred in other states. H.B. 520 allows Mayor’s Offices to become authorizers, like the Indianapolis Mayor’s Office, which ensures a proven level of effective oversight.
Traditional public school districts – which will play a vital role as charter school authorizers with oversight responsibility – shouldn’t feel threatened by charter schools, but should embrace the opportunity to put in place another model to reach all students.
Congratulations Kentuckians! I’m excited for Gov. Bevin to sign Kentucky’s charter school law and I am encouraged to see our legislators and stakeholders focusing on what matters most: serving the best interests of all Kentucky students.