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March 3, 2017                                                                                                  Patrick Korten
pkorten@edreform.com | 202-750-0016

Hope for a better charter school law now lies with State Senate

The lower house of the Kentucky legislature passed HB520 this afternoon, a bill which in all but isolated cases strengthens the hands of school districts to limit charter schooling in Kentucky.

Applicants wanting to open a charter school in the state will first have to get permission from the district, which experience shows is rarely given in the absence of a swift and binding appeal to the state board of education or multiple chartering authorizers.

While an amendment offered by Representative Phil Moffett adding the Mayors of Louisville and Lexington as authorizers improved the bill, other changes, including a provision barring charters from contracting with businesses to support and manage their schools, and barring online education, made it much worse.

The Kentucky Education Association president opposed even the dramatically scaled back version of the measure. As has been typical elsewhere, Kentucky school boards and superintendents have been lobbying hard against charter schools, and creating fear among rural legislators that charter schools would drain their school funding.

“This isn’t about money or preserving power, and the end of the day it’s where are we are getting bank for the buck and are we helping kids succeed, said Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, who personally asked the House Education Committee to pass the bill.

Promoted as a program primarily designed to help minority children trapped in failing schools, left unchanged the bill would result in a dramatically different environment than states with strong charter school sectors. Read More…

“CER has been working for months with leaders in the state to create a better understanding of the conditions necessary for a strong charter school law, said the Center’s CEO, Jeanne Allen. But we respectfully disagree with our colleagues who joined the fight later that simply passing a bill is progress.

“It’s very disappointing to see such hard work give way to the determined defenders of the status quo. We’re hopeful that the State Senate can do better next week,” said Allen.

Read More on Charter Schools in Kentucky.