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Politicians in Kentucky are trying to push through a charter schools bill (HB 520) that makes the same mistakes that other states already made. Why don’t they learn? This bill, if approved, would undermine public schools and the vast majority of students within the commonwealth who attend them.
Charter schools are funded using taxpayer dollars, but are privately managed—often by for-profit companies. They’re also not held to the same rigorous standards as traditional public schools.
Kentucky is one of few states where charters currently do not exist and we’ve got five reasons why lawmakers need to stay away from HB 520.
- Do we know the financial impact this bill would have on traditional public schools? Every dollar given to a charter school is money taken away from a public school and the students who attend that school. This bill currently doesn’t require charter school authorizers to assess the impact of new charter school applications on local public schools and it should. Voters in Massachusetts rejected an expansion of charter schools because it would have cost public schools $450 million every year.
- It reduces local control. The bill gives local school boards little room to maneuver, and appeals to the State Board can overturn them anyway.
- Like traditional public schools, charters need to be held to similar, rigorous standards. In its current form, the bill allows charters schools to negotiate their performance standards with their authorizer. Are local public school principals invited to decide what they consider a passing grade for their students? All students need to be held to the same high standards.
- For-profit companies are about profit—not educating students. In addition to allowing for the creation of an unlimited number of charters, the bill currently allows for-profit companies to run and manage these schools. A for-profit company’s primary concern is making money—which isn’t congruent with the mission of public education. Should for-profit companies be allowed to turn a dollar on the backs of students?
- Virtual charter schools. HB 520 allows for the creation of virtual charters, which, as of late, have come under significant criticism, including a report that concluded California students enrolled with state’s largest provider of online charters were at risk of receiving a “low-quality education.” Even charter proponents, including the members of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, say that virtual charters need to be more accountable for student performance.
If you want to know more about charter schools, visit the Education Votes charter schools issue page. There you’ll find a wide range of stories chronicling the track record of charter schools and their impact on students and the nation’s public schools.