Big Wins for Students and Families

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Last week was full of great news for students and families!

After years of hard work, we were thrilled to see Gov. Matt Bevin sign legislation making Kentucky the 44th state (plus D.C.) to give parents the option of choosing a charter school for their children. Applicants hoping to launch a new charter school can begin applying at the beginning of the next school year, with the first charter schools opening as early as fall 2018.

This is a big win for students, and the National Alliance thanks Gov. Bevin; Rep. John “Bam” Carney, the Chairman of the House Education Committee; Senate President Pro Tempore David Givens; and Senate Education Committee Chairman Mike Wilson for their leadership in bringing new educational opportunities to Kentucky families.

Winning support for a charter school law takes tremendous grassroots work, and this victory in Kentucky is the culmination of a collaborative effort to bring charter schools to the Bluegrass State. The National Alliance is grateful for our partners, including the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce; Americans for Prosperity – Kentucky; the Kentucky Pastors in Action Coalition; Greater Louisville, Inc.; the Foundation for Excellence in Education; the Campaign for School Equity; and the National Association of Charter School Authorizers.

Kentucky’s new law draws upon many of the best policies and practices developed during the first 25 years of the charter school movement, including those reflected in the National Alliance’s
model charter school law. Kentucky charter schools will have the flexibility to innovate in bringing high-quality education to students, while being held to a high standard of accountability.

The news out of Kentucky closely followed the release of the National Alliance’s 2017 state charter law rankings, which includes several states that have recently passed strong charter school laws, such as Alabama (ranked #2) and Washington state (ranked #4). We look forward to seeing Kentucky join the list next year!

Last week also delivered a major victory for students with special needs. In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court determined in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District that students with special needs are entitled to an individualized education program (IEP) that, in the Court’s words, is “reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.” This is a higher standard than was applied by lower courts, and will help to ensure a more equitable education for students who have an IEP under IDEA. (For a plain-language explanation of the ruling, click here.)

The National Alliance and the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools had filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to adopt such a higher standard of educational benefit. We believe this is consistent with the charter school movement’s commitment to serving students with disabilities enrolled in charter schools, and the high expectations charter schools have for all students.

Having high standards may impose new requirements on schools, including charter schools. Yet every school should be a place where all students learn and grow to the fullest of their abilities. Thanks to the Court’s decision in Endrew F., more children will have that opportunity.

Let’s Keep the Momentum Going!
We’re celebrating these victories, but we know there is so much more to do. We are working tirelessly to open the doors to more charter schools, and we need your help to ensure that all students can access the high-quality public education they deserve. Follow this link and tell Congress how important it is to support high-quality charter schools!