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Legislation Could Clear the Way for Charter Schools in Kentucky

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Kentucky lawmakers are busy drafting legislation that would permit the creation of charter schools in the Bluegrass State.

The pilot program, according to an article in the Lexington Herald-Leader, would allow parents, teachers, or nonprofits to operate charter schools. Kentucky is one of only eight states in the U.S. that do not have charter schools.

The newspaper reports that the legislation would target school districts with so-called "unconscionable" achievement gaps—meaning minority, low-income, and disabled students are academically lagging behind their peers. Based on the proposed criteria, Fayette County Schools in Lexington and Jefferson County School in Louisville would likely be part of the pilot program, according to the story.

A spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Education told the Herald-Leader that state Education Commissioner Terry Holliday would support charter schools as an option to improve the state's low-performing schools as long as local school boards were the sole chartering authority. But Wayne Lewis, chairman of the Kentucky Public Charter Schools Association board, said the state needs more than one chartering authority and should consider an independent chartering commission or a university, for example.

Education Week's Arianna Prothero writes that school-choice legislation is on the minds of lawmakers across the nation.

A bill drafted by assembly Republicans in Wisconsin would require the state to shut down failing district schools and turn them into charters, according to the Milwaukee Journal SentinelIt would also create an A-F grading system for all private schools that accept public money through tuition voucher programs as well as district and charter schools.

Prothero writes that a South Florida lawmaker has filed a bill that would require charter school applicants to prove that the school they want to open fills a need unmet by local district schools, among other things. Read more about it in the Sun-Sentinel

Out West, a Republican Wyoming state representative's legislation would no longer allow school districts to authorize charter schools. Instead, according to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, the legislation calls for the authorizing authority and work to be given to a single, statewide agency—the Wyoming Community College Commission.

Prothero writes that if the bill were to become law, Wyoming would join a small but growing group of states turning toward statewide authorizers to manage their charter schools.

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