Friday, June 3, 2011

BIPPS' education efforts get boost from national organizations

Two national groups have come alongside the Bluegrass Institute to help bring true education reform, including parental school choice, to Kentucky.

On May 13, Kevin Chavous, the new chairman of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, spoke at a dinner officially announcing BAEO's presence in Kentucky. Pastor Jerry L. Stephenson, an inner-city Louisville minister, has been named the first state coordinator of BAEO, which now has chapters in eight different states.

Chavous, a former Washington, D.C. city councilman, joined Joel Adams, the new state coordinator for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, to pledge their support in working with the Kentucky Education Restoration Alliance coalition to convince lawmakers to bring charter schools to the commonwealth.

"What we are saying is, it's time for Kentucky to step up," Chavous said at the event. "There is a movement in America to change education. You can either get on the train or you can get left at the station. We need you to commit for these kids."

Louisville Metro Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton hosted the event at the Shawnee Golf Club House in west Louisville. Hamilton has attended two out-of-state BAEO events during the past few months and plans on reaching out to her fellow council members to get support for charter schools from Kentucky's largest local government.

Jim Waters, the Bluegrass Institute's vice president of policy and communications, represented the institute at the event. The institute was praised by Stephenson and others for its work in providing the intellectual ammunition concerning Kentucky's school performance and for its call for system-wide reform.

Waters also spoke at a charter school boot camp, conducted earlier in the week at The Yearling Club in West Louisville. Representatives from BAEO and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools conducted three hours of training on how to effectively reach out to legislators, the media and fellow citizens concerning charter schools.

Among those attending the event was Hal Heiner, Louisville Metro's Republican mayoral candidate who lost a close race in November. Heiner is working with the coalition to reach out and engage the business community in education reform.

A wealth of information about charter schools -- what they are, how they operate and who they serve -- is available at Notice the facts included in a recent Bluegrass Beacon column I wrote on charter schools.

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