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05/26/2011

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Innervation

There is, unfortunately, no viable pathway for legislators or KDE to address the deficiency of charter schools during the application timeline for Round Three. After the bad press associated with the special session earlier this year, I doubt legislative leadership or the Governor would push to call for a special session. (Even if Gov. Beshear had a change of heart on charters, he will be far too busy with the fall election to undertake such a task.)
I also do not see a pathway by which Kentucky can recuse itself from the competition with a polite, "Thanks but no thanks." to the good folks in Washington. In this case, Kentucky is left with a critical gap in it's application once more. What's next?

During Round One, KDE made a half-hearted attempt to argue School Based Decision Making (SBDM) councils were an adequate replacement for charters. Round Two saw even less of an argument--and even fewer scorers who believed such an argument was valid. The question, then, is what can KDE argue would meet this need? This rise of early and middle college programs could be the best bet in this case. The program at West Kentucky Community and Technical College, others already in place, and the new programs starting up under a grant could be useful pathways for the second half the application heading "Charters...or Other Innovative Programs." A second inclusion of this case, for which I am personally connected, is The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky. Advocates for charters have used the program as a lightning rod in the past--going so far as to call it "Kentucky's illegal charter school." While I do not believe the Academy is a charter school, it certainly does represent an innovative program with useful longitudinal data to support an argument.

Either way, the greatest part of the state's application need not change if the rules stay the same for Round Three. However, if that's the case, some serious brainstorming needs to take place to make the application more than for show.

Gary Houchens

Agree with you on multiple counts. Yes, Gatton is not a charter school per se, but it's an excellent example of educational innovation and meets a real, unmet need for students across the region.

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