Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Voucher Advocates meet with Lexington Blacks to Promote Charter Schools in Kentucky

Group lobbied Senate President David Williams

Kentucky Targeted for Mobilization

This from Jim Warren at H-L:
Representatives of a national education group met with African-American Lexington residents Monday, seeking grass-roots support for charter schools in Kentucky.

The state has no charter schools, and legislation allowing for their creation has gone nowhere in the Kentucky General Assembly. But the Washington-based Black Alliance for Educational Options and other organizations promoting educational choice contend that charters could provide valuable alternatives for minority and low-income parents who think traditional schools are failing their children.

"We are in crisis mode in terms of the education of our children," Black Alliance president Kenneth Campbell declared at Monday's session, citing estimates that half of black youths entering ninth grade this year won't finish high school. "How can we not explore this option, given what's going on with our kids?"

Another speaker, former NAACP executive director Benjamin Chavis, said that improving education is part of the unfinished business of the U.S. civil rights movement.

"The biggest civil rights issue today is the education of our children," said Chavis, an adviser to the Black Alliance. "Let's roll up our sleeves and get to work."...
The Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) is a Washington-based advocacy group funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation, along with a host of pro-charter groups (some also funded by Gates) to agitate for expanded charter schools in America. Kentucky has been identified as a new "mobilization site."

The group also supports school vouchers, homes schooling, tuition tax credits and virtual schools.

In 2003, BAEO submitted a proposal to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation seeking a five-year grant of $4,000,000 to sponsor the development of 15 small, project-based high schools. In 2007, BAEO modified the original proposal to create only 8 high schools by 2010 in response to the growing concern amongst project members around quality and sustainability. By 2008 BAEO had three schools open that served approximately 831 students.

This from the 2010 BAEO Annual Report:

BAEO Started Groundwork for
Parental Choice in Kentucky

Under the leadership of National Advocacy Director, Shreé Medlock, the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) started grassroots efforts in Kentucky 2010. Kim Mapp and Pastor Jerry Stephenson, two BAEO KY State Outreach Coordinators have hit the ground running, holding events to inform and educate local community and business leaders, clergy and
parents about education reform and the parental choice movement.

The team recently held meetings in Louisville, Lexington, and Frankfurt(sic). Medlock gave the keynote address during a parent meeting in Louisville where approximately 25 parents participated in discussions focused on the need for parents in Kentucky to be involved in the education reform movement.

In Lexington, the team met with a coalition of groups at the Imani Church. BAEO President Kenneth Campbell led a discussion on charter schools and the educational options BAEO supports.

Participants included members of the faith-based community, elected officials, candidates, business and community leaders, and coalition members. “Parents in Kentucky want more options. We’re planting seeds that will reap tremendous fruit for education reform and parental choice in Kentucky,” said Medlock.

Under the leadership of Campbell and Todd Ziebarth, Vice President for State Advocacy and Support for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, BAEO and its community partners presented to the Kentucky House Education Committee.

The BAEO team in Kentucky also met directly with Senate President David Williams.

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