Rep. Bam Carney should be applauded for introducing legislation aimed at improving Kentucky’s system of public education through school choice. Specifically, 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 seek to protect the status quo by opposing H.B. 520, Carney, is 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 policy-makers to learn from and address problems that have occurred in other states, like Ohio.
Adding Mayor’s Offices as authorizers, like the Indianapolis Mayor’s Office, ensures a proven level of effective oversight for H.B.520.
Traditional public school districts – which will play a vital role as charter school authorizers with oversight responsibility – shouldn’t feel threatened, but should embrace the opportunity to put in place another model to reach all students.
I’m encouraged to see Governor Bevin and our legislators focus on what matters most: serving the best interests of all Kentucky students.