Mara Powell

Statement by Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates

Kentucky Youth Advocates applauds the work of the Kentucky Senate and House of Representatives for their work to create a charter school bill that creates opportunity for students in Kentucky.

We at Kentucky Youth Advocates have consistently asserted three key points in the charter school debate. First, there are clearly good and bad charter experiences in this nation and we need to learn lessons from those. Second, high quality charters can be one of many tools to assist vulnerable children in the Commonwealth. And finally, no one can contend that charter schools are a magic wand to cure what’s not working for all students to succeed.

HB 520 is a silver medal version of charter schools. While Kentucky students would benefit most from more definitive language requiring charters to prioritize our most vulnerable students and a broader range of authorizing entities, this bill addresses many key points in a high-quality way around arenas such as assessment, accountability, and certification.

As the potential of charters becomes a Kentucky reality, it is imperative that we are vigilant in monitoring results, especially in the early stages of implementation. Just as we would with any new initiative, we must ask, “What is working and what is not to address achievement gaps?”, “Who are the students being served?”, and “Can we apply ongoing improvement processes to the charter movement to ensure it remains a source of innovation that other schools can emulate?”

We commend Representative John Carney, Senator Mike Wilson, and Senator David Givens for their work on charters, intentional efforts to listen to diverse voices, and unrelenting focus on what is best for children.

Kentucky’s kids just got a new shot at being world-class learners today with the passage of HB 520.