Advocates for charter schools in Kentucky took their cause to Frankfort today.
A handful of organizations support charter schools. One of the most vocal has been the Black Alliance for Educational Opportunities or BAEO. Its national president, Kenneth Campbell, helped lead the rally for charter schools at the Capitol. And he told the crowd Kentucky’s education system doesn’t serve all students equally.
“You know children and families in Kentucky are in crisis, as they are in a lot of places across this country," Campbell said. "And the one tool we have for turning this whole thing around is education. And it doesn’t work for too many of our children. So what we want is for the political leaders of Kentucky to take a stand on behalf of children.
Many lawmakers were on hand for the rally, which came after a march around the Capitol. Former Louisville mayoral candidate Hal Heiner—who chairs a group running ads in support of charter schools—spoke to a crowded Rotunda audience. So did state Rep. Brad Montell, who has repeatedly filed legislation to legalize charter schools.
Supporters of the legislation are telling opponents—largely teachers' unions—to get out the way.
“Again I think the only thing that holds it up are people who are supporting institutions more than children and families," said Campbell. "People who are supporting adult issues and their organized interest versus the interests of children. At the end of the day nobody can look at our performance and say that what we have right now is working for all kids. And if it’s not then we need to talk about being bold and taking action.”
House Speaker Greg Stumbo has signaled an openness to charter school legislation this session. And House Education Chairman Carl Rollins says he may allow a bill to be voted on in his committee.
But opponents of charter schools say education improvement isn't a certainty with charters. They point to mismanagement of charter schools in other states, lackluster improvement and the draining of funds from other public schools as reasons not to support charters.