The Issue of Charter Schools Raises Questions

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

On Kentucky Tonight, we sometimes address complicated subjects, raising questions rather than providing answers. On some Monday nights, I leave my desk wondering whether we have dealt with the issue well enough so that Kentuckians can make intelligent decisions.

New education issues cropped up this year—whether or not the University of Pikeville, a private institution, should be supported by state higher education dollars, thus becoming a public university; and the controversial subject of charter schools.

Kentucky is one of only nine states without a charter school law. In 40 states and the District of Columbia, there are laws or regulations governing the establishment of charter schools. One of the critical questions is which of these regulations or laws best fits Kentucky?

We’re surrounded by states with charter school laws. Monday night, charter school advocate Hal Heiner pointed to schools in Indianapolis and Nashville as models for setting up a system of charter schools in Kentucky. He also emphasized that charters are public schools, funded by public funds.

The Kentucky Education Association (KEA) opposes charter schools. Sharron Oxendine, president of the KEA, said if we have state dollars for charter schools, that money should be used in existing public schools to assist teachers, lower the student-teacher ratio, and do a better job of improving the current system of public schools in the state.

Here’s an exchange between Heiner and Oxendine from Monday’s program.

Heiner and Oxendine were guests on the program, along with Rep. Carl Rollins and Sen. Ken Winters.

If you want more answers than questions about charter schools, perhaps a trip to Frankfort should be on your calendar. House Education Chair Rollins will hear from both sides February 7 at 8/7 am CT in a committee room of the Legislative Research Commission.


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