Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Charter Bill DOA in House

The Bowling Green Daily News (subscription required) reported yesterday that, according to Kentucky House Education Committee Chairman Derrick Graham (D-Frankfort), the charter school bill recently passed by the Kentucky Senate is dead for the 2015 session.
House Ed Chair Derrick Graham

Graham told the Daily News that House members won’t support it.

Instead Graham said expects the House Education Committee to consider his House Bill 449, which would allow a failing public school to participate in a school turnaround program if it has tried the innovation options already at its disposal and is still classified as a low-achieving school for four consecutive years. Graham's proposal calls for allowing external management, restaffing, closure of the school or a “transformation” – when the school’s principal and the site-based decision-making council members are replaced.

Graham told the Daily News that he’s concerned about failing academics among black youths – and not just in Jefferson and Fayette counties. Those counties were the target of planned pilot projects in the Senate-passed charter school bill. Graham said his years in public education gave him insight into what academic reforms will work.

State Sen. Mike Wilson (R-Bowling Green) previously claimed that the Senate charter school bill could close achievement gaps between blacks and whites in Jefferson and Fayette counties.

But Graham said several groups in Kentucky favor his approach, including teachers. Teachers oppose the Senate-passed charter school bill because it would suspend collective bargaining agreements to allow principals flexibility to turn around their schools.

Proponents of charter schools, including Kentucky’s Bluegrass Institute, have said that flexibility in staffing and decision-making is critical in a charter school being successful.

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