As the 2015 General Assembly gets underway, it's important that our legislators put Kentucky's children first by voting yes on legislation to bring high-quality charter schools to our state.
Last year, according to our state Department of Education, many of our students failed to meet basic benchmarks in reading, and math. Sadly, only 55 percent of Kentucky's elementary students are proficient in reading and only 49 percent are found to be proficient in math.
And while the proficiency levels are drastically different for white students versus black students, the fact remains that all of our students need help. Charter schools can be viable options.
Charter schools are unique public schools allowed the freedom to be more innovative and flexible in their efforts to advance student achievement. As public schools, they do not charge tuition, do not have special entrance requirements, and are open to all children.
Charters were created to offer parents public school options to best serve their child's specific needs. Just as traditional district schools, charter schools are funded by local, state and federal tax dollars based on school enrollment.
In states like Indiana and Tennessee, charter schools have used their freedom to extend the school day, adjust the curriculum and develop strong models for learning that help redefine the classroom for student needs.
Kentucky is one of just eight states that do not have charter school legislation. Being one of the last states to adopt legislation, we are in a great position to survey states that are doing well with charters, and find ways to replicate success.
While we know our public schools are doing what they can with the resources they have, we also know that the Jefferson County school system is failing far too many children. Its service has been labeled "academic genocide" and we couldn't agree more.
In fact, 18 schools in Jefferson County have been identified by state education officials as "persistently low-performing." It's time to stop the bleeding, stop wasting time, and stop using our taxpayers' dollars to deliver a less-than stellar education system. Allowing charter schools to come to our state will allow our children to have access to educational options that may serve them better.
Ensuring our children receive the best education possible should be our top priority for 2015. It's time to stop accepting failing schools, and start creating opportunities for student success. We need our leaders to step up and support charter schools.