Group Launches Events for Charter School Legislation

by ekramer on October 26, 2009

An event next week will be the first of many planned to build support to establish charter schools in Kentucky. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

Several Louisville pastors with the Kentucky Education Restoration Alliance have been working with Republican Rep. Brad Montell of Shelbyville. This month, Montell filed a bill to allow charter schools in the state. Rep. Stan Lee of Lexington filed a similar bill in July. Charter schools use public money but are run by groups outside the public education system.

The alliance is bringing Virginia Walden Ford to speak in Louisville on Nov. 6. Ford is executive director of DC Parents for School Choice in Washington.

Montell says charters create competition in urban areas like Louisville, which has failing schools under the No Child Left Behind policy.

“Kentucky needs to be innovative in our approach to education and right now we almost live in a vacuum,” Montell says. “The education establishment sort of creates a one-size-fits-all education model and we have to break free from that.”

Montell says he consulted with the Kentucky Education Restoration Alliance before drafting the legislation.

“The biggest need for charter schools are in our inner cities,” he says. “In Louisville, for example, we have a number of schools that are failing our families and our students.”

Montell also says charter schools do not have to work with teachers’ unions.

“It allows for flexibility — whether it’s flexibility in the length of the day or in the teaching method,” he says. “Many [charter] schools have gone to a merit pay type of structure for teachers so that we reward the teachers as they achieve.”

Montell says Kentucky needs charter schools to compete for $4 billion in grants through the federal government’s Race to the Top fund. City and state education leaders say they doubt the need for charter schools based on their mixed performance nationally and the reform efforts already underway across the state and in Louisville.

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