Kentucky's persistently low-achieving schools would be able to become charter schools to improve performance and test scores under a bill discussed Tuesday in the state Senate Education Committee.
The bill adds charters as a fifth option for what the state now calls "priority schools—schools that persistently get low scores. The current options include re-staffing of teachers, firing the principal, giving the school up to outside management or closing the schools.
Kentucky is one of seven states that doesn't allow for some sort of charter school—public schools that are generally governed independently from local school boards and given flexibility in teaching methods. Past efforts which would have opened charters to schools that weren't persistently low-performing have failed to pass through the General Assembly.
This legislation, Senate Bill 176, offers a different path, because only those schools who qualify as low-achieving could apply for charter status to their local school board.
A bill to create an authorizing body for charter schools in Tennessee has been delayed. The sponsor now says he’s listening to critics, who say the legislation unfairly singles out Nashville and Memphis.
As written, the bill would give charter schools a way to open in Tennessee’s two largest urban areas without asking the school board – officially known as the local education authority or LEA.
Rep. Mark White is the sponsor and says he could be on-board with a true statewide charter authorizer if local school boards do the initial vetting.
“If we go back to the LEAs – letting them have first input on this – this will be a statewide application,” said Rep. White.
Charter school legislation has been introduced in the Kentucky House. It would allow a limited number of schools to pilot the concept, and supporters of the bill are hoping the less aggressive approach will appeal to those who have opposed past measures.
Shelbyville Rep. Brad Montell crafted his bill with help from the Kentucky Charter School Project. The group includes several organizations that have supported charter school legislation the past couple of years.
Spokesman Joe Burgan says the bill would pilot the charter school concept instead of allowing all schools the option.
“So instead of wide spread charter schools in Kentucky this would limit them top 75 schools over a five year period. So it’s starting small rather than trying to jump right in and get everything in one bill.”