House Democrats are voicing their opposition to Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's administration's decision to withhold $3.4 million in state funding from Nashville because of a disputed charter school application. The lawmakers at a news conference outside the legislative office complex in Nashville on Tuesday afternoon argued that Haslam's decision was unfair to students at city schools.
The state Department of Education is withholding $3.4 million in funding from the public school system in Nashville over a rejected charter school. The Metro Nashville school board last week defied an order by the state Board of Education to approve the application from Phoenix-based Great Hearts Academies.
When the current Kentucky legislative session ends this week, many issues will be left on the table for the future including the issue of charter schools. Kentucky is among just nine states without charters and the push to change that has been polarizing in Frankfort.
Tennessee is seeing an increased number of proposals for charter schools. The rise in applications is largely due to a recent change in state law that no longer limits charters to low-income students from failing classrooms. The Tennessean reports that in Nashville alone eleven groups have applied to create new charter school operations.
An attempt to piggyback charter school legislation on another bill has likely killed two plans for education reform in Kentucky. The state Senate Education committee Thursday added language legalizing charter schools to a charter alternative plan sponsored by Representative Carl Rollins, who chairs the House Education Committee. Charter supporters hoped Rollins would allow the amendment in order to see his alternative become law, but it's unlikely the plan will work.