Charter Schools and the Commonwealth: The Race for Meaningful Education Reform

By Richard Nelson

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July 18, 2012

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Despite being known for its fast horses, Kentucky has been slow in the race to meaningful education reform.  The inability of the Kentucky legislature to pass recent charter school legislation is just one example of its failure to stay on track.

Charter Schools are tuition-free public schools that have been freed from certain rules in exchange for improving student achievement.1 Currently, 41 out of the 50 states have passed some form of charter school or school choice legislation.2 What makes Charter Schools unique among other education reforms is that they are largely a bipartisan issue, with supporters on both sides of the aisle.3 Even the National Education Association has stated that, “Charter schools . . . have the potential to facilitate education reforms and develop new and creative teaching methods . . .for the benefit of all children.”4 However, some of the most overwhelming support comes from the parents, who recognize the benefits such schools can offer their children.5 Studies, such as the one performed by Mathematica Policy Research in 2010, demonstrate that although there may not always be a significant difference in the results of charter schools and regular public schools overall, charter schools are generally more effective for lower-income and lower-achieving students.6 In addition, research by the RAND Corporation in 2009 indicates that students who attend charter high schools are more likely to graduate and go to college.7  

In the race towards better education, most states are jockeying for position and yet Kentucky hasn’t even left the gate. Charter schools are successfully helping thousands of students a year in states all across the country, but not in the Commonwealth. It’s time to change course. By implementing carefully crafted charter school legislation, Kentucky will be back on track, providing the means to educational success for students all across the Commonwealth.

 

References: 

 1. "What Are Public Charter Schools?" National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. National Alliance for Public Charters, n.d. Web. 16 July 2012. <http://publiccharters.org/About-Charter-Schools/What-are-Charter-Schools003F.aspx>.

2. "Charter Schools 101: The Most Frequently Asked Questions." National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. National Alliance for Public Charters, n.d. Web. 16 July 2012. <http://publiccharters.org/About-Charter-Schools/Frequently-Asked-Questions.aspx>.

3. Klein, Alyson. "House Gives Bipartisan Stamp of Approval to Charter Bill." Education Week. Education Week, 13 Sept. 2011. Web. 16 July 2012. <http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2011/09/but_behind_the_scenes_some.html>.

4. "Charter Schools." National Education Association. National Education Association, n.d. Web. 13 July 2012. <http://www.nea.org/home/16332.htm>.

5. "Charting a Better Course: Charter Schools Raise Educational Standards for Vulnerable Children." The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 07 July 2012. Web. 16 July 2012. <http://www.economist.com/node/21558265>.

6. "Charter School Study Shows No Significant Overall Impacts on Achievement." Mathematica Policy Research. Mathematica Policy Research, 29 June 2010. Web. 16 July 2012. <http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/newsroom/releases/2010/Charterschool_6_10.asp>.

7. "Are Charter Schools Making a Difference? A Study of Student Outcomes in Eight States." Rand Corporation. RAND Corporation, 2009. Web. 16 July 2012. <http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9433/index1.html>. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Director, Commonwealth Policy Center