Let failing traditional schools transform into charter schools

Apr 24, 2013 by

LOUISVILLE – A growing trend to fix broken schools is to free them from the bureaucratic red tape and union rules that have bogged them down.

Legislative action in many states has allowed some of the worse-performing schools to transform into something better, frequently with new administrators and teaching staffs.

But in Kentucky, educational establishment forces – combined with politicians – have prevented such measures. Instead, they prefer to keep kids trapped in failing schools and spend more money on those schools (which invariably ends up in the adults’ pockets).

The following editorial on this topic comes from WDRB.com:

The recently completed Kentucky General Assembly session was a relatively bipartisan and productive one. But partisanship and special interest politics prevented passage of some good bills. Senate Bill 176 was one.

Arne Duncan, the U. S. Secretary of Education says, “When a school continues to perform in the bottom five percent of the state and isn’t showing signs of progress or has graduation rates below 60 percent over a number of years, something dramatic needs to be done.”

SB 176 would have done something dramatic to improve Kentucky’s persistently low-achieving schools, or “PLAs.” The bill, co-sponsored by Republican Senators Mike Wilson of Bowling Green and Dan Seum of Louisville, would have let local school boards, parents, or certified staff and teachers initiate a process to transform PLAs into charter schools.

“Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that are free to be more innovative and are held accountable for improved student achievement,” explains Kentuckians Advocating Reform in Education. KARE adds, “There are currently over 4,900 public charter schools open in 40 states and D.C., serving more than 1.6 million students.”

Charter schools offer a variety of education options that recognize the differences in the way kids learn. They have flexibility and innovate in areas like “curriculum design, extended learning time, school cultures with high expectations for all students and adults, more structured and disciplined learning environments, rewarding high-quality teachers with higher pay, parent contracts, and multi-age programs,” KARE says.

Kentucky is one of only eight states that do not allow charter schools in any form. Why not? The main reason is opposition from teachers’ unions like the Kentucky Education Association and the Jefferson County Teachers Association (JCTA) and the domination those unions exercise over Democratic politicians.

Significantly, Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday supported SB 176. He noted that the money, resources, and special attention lavished on PLAs, especially in Jefferson County where most of them are clustered, have not had the desired effect.

via Let failing traditional schools transform into charter schools – EAGnews.org :: Education Research, Reporting, Analysis and Commentary.

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