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Kentucky Charter Legislation Awaits Governor’s Signature
It’s in Everyone’s Interest, Especially Our Students, to Get this Right

Yesterday, the Kentucky General Assembly, led by its new Republican majority, voted to authorize public charter schools for the first time, making Kentucky the 44th state in the nation to add charters to its public education system.

During spirited debate leading up to passage, lawmakers affirmed Kentucky’s 27 years of progress in education that has lifted the state out of the bottom tier of student achievement to the middle. The legislation expresses a clear mission to increase student achievement by providing a targeted approach to innovation and meeting the unique needs of different populations of students through charter schools. Senate and House leadership asserted that charter schools will be a tool to effectively reduce achievement gaps and, thereby, improve overall student outcomes.

While local boards have been given the primary authority for choosing charter schools as part of a district school system, questions remain about the details of authorizing and the resources available to support charter schools. Additional fine-tuning will come through the regulatory process led by the Kentucky Department of Education. The Prichard Committee will monitor that process to help ensure implementation of charters meets the mission and vision intended by the legislation – and results in only high-performing, quality public charter schools that have the collaborative community support necessary to sustain strong outcomes for students and our state.

“This is a significant change to Kentucky’s public education structure,” said Brigitte Blom Ramsey, Prichard Committee Executive Director. “If we get implementation right, charter schools can help us narrow achievement gaps and give kids who have been persistently underserved a new sense of hope that education is their path to a larger life. If we get implementation wrong, it could set us back, and worse, our kids will lose the hard-won progress of the last quarter century.” 

It is incumbent upon us now to work together to ensure charters do result in better education outcomes, for students and for our state as a whole.  To do this we need proper training and commitment of authorizers, as well as proper financial resourcing of the public system so we attract only high-quality charter operators and support quality in our existing public system.

We also need to ensure the right accountability measures are in place, with plenty of transparency, to track our progress and the return on investment of this new strategy. Quality schools for each and every child and a strong system that ensures every child succeeds must be our shared focus.

The Prichard Committee looks forward to uniting on common ground to work with all stakeholders willing to focus on quality public schools and invest the resources necessary to support access and opportunity for each and every one of Kentucky’s nearly 680,000 students. This shared aspiration will move Kentucky toward the ultimate goal of leading the nation in preparing students to achieve in school and in life.

See Prichard Committee’s analysis of the charter legislation here.


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