Louisville, Ky. (WHAS11) — A new organization aimed at placing charter schools on the map in Kentucky gathered at the Muhammed Ali Center today and believe the schools could be the answer to education reform.
Jefferson County is home to 18 of the state’s 41 failing schools.
"Seventy-two percent of Kentuckians in a poll we conducted said they were in favor of turning over under-performing schools in the state to a charter school,” said Nina Rees, President of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
JCPS Superintendent Dr. Donna Hargens was in the audience, but not part of the panel. Historically, JCPS and the Jefferson County Teachers Association have opposed charter schools.
"That's the teachers' union. The KEA and JCTA adamantly opposed to any additional forms of education. They enjoy the monopoly they have and fear of change although they really shouldn't have fear," said Hal Heiner, Kentucky Charter School Association Board Chair.
Leaders in business, faith, education and politics were present for the bipartisan education summit, hosted by the Kentucky Charter Schools Association at the Muhammed Ali Center.
“This is a genuine, national crisis,” said Mitch McConnell, U.S. Senate Republican Leader.
U.S. Senator, Rand Paul, said he was in support of charter schools.
"I'm for charter schools,” Paul said. “I don't care where you go; private, public, religious, non-religious. It's your money."
Recently, charter school advertisements hit the airwaves and online. Some say it’s a civil rights issue to help low-income as well as some struggling African-American and other minority communities.
Kentucky is one of only eight states that do not offer public charter schools. Meanwhile, there are 6,000 charter schools in 42 states.
Central High School honor student, Elliott Kelly, is in favor of diversified education.
"I'd be more prepared for college and life. I'd feel a lot more prepared," Kelly said.
Indiana has charter schools and supporters say low-income students have much better math skills. Charter schools operate like private schools, but are tuition free and state funded.