Kentucky lawmaker pre-files charter schools bill

Earlier proposals didn't go far, but a Kentucky lawmaker wants to bring up the controversial issue of charter schools once again when the General Assembly begins in January.

Charter schools are an alternative to public schools.

They receive both public money and private donations.

They do not have the same regulations as public schools, but they still have to meet accountability requirements.

Rep. Brad Montell, R-Shelbyville, pre-filed a bill for the 2012 legislative session, which would allow communities to open charter schools.

"Charter schools aren't intended to take the place of traditional public schools, but rather to compliment them and to make them better. Charter schools are public schools," Montell said.

Montell says charter schools cater to students at risk of academic failure, and they would help close the achievement gap.

However, some organizations, like the Kentucky Education Association, have been opposed to charter schools, saying they eliminate accountability.

"A similar bill proposed a couple of years ago would have allowed less qualified teachers to teach in charter schools, and those schools often close because of lack of funding," KEA President Sharron Oxendine said. "We feel we need to fully fund public schools, and we haven't gotten conclusive evidence that charter schools would improve education in Kentucky. Why can't we find what's good in charter schools and apply it to every public school?"

Montell says charter schools have a lot of grass roots support, and he feels optimistic in the weeks leading up to the 2012 legislative session.

Montell says Kentucky is one of nine states that does not allow charter schools.

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