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Letter to the editor | Reject charter schools in KY

Dear Editor,

What is a charter school? A charter school is a new school created within an existing public school district. These new schools are funded from the existing pool of money for that district, thus reducing funding for all the schools in the district. But charter schools are different than the other schools within the district because they are not required to follow the existing rules set by the state. In other words, charter schools can ignore the rules imposed on regular public schools while taking public school funds.

Why do supporters of charter schools say Kentucky needs them? Supporters argue that Kentucky schools are “failing,” and charter schools will fix that problem. This argument is based on two flawed assumptions.

First, Kentucky public schools are not failing. Kentucky’s public schools consistently rank in the top half of various national rankings, despite decreasing state funding and the challenges created by the state’s high poverty rate.

Second, supporters claim that students will be better educated in schools that don’t have to follow the rules set for public schools by the state government. For example, a charter school can limit enrollment to the “best” students, deny admission to other qualified students, hire untrained teachers, and ignore state curriculum requirements and tests. Years of studies on charters schools in other states show that they often perform no better, and often worse, than the regular public schools.

Let’s apply this logic to another essential public service – law enforcement. Few would argue that Kentucky’s state and local law enforcement agencies are failing, but most will agree that departments are short on funds and resources to deal with the crushing burdens presented by poverty and drug addiction. But no one is suggesting that we create “charter police forces” that drain already limited public funding and ignore the rules set by the judicial system for existing law enforcement agencies.

Public education in Kentucky will not be improved by reducing already scarce funding and undercutting existing public schools. Please contact your state representatives and the governor to ask them to reject charter schools in Kentucky.

Cynthia W. Resor

Lancaster, KY