Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett will address the hundreds of attendees at the 2009 Indiana Public Charter School Conference during lunch on April 29. Bennett will explore the important role charter schools play in the state’s education system, as well as charter school initiatives to provide opportunities for students to earn college credits while still in high school.
“If we really hope to reform and improve public education in Indiana, we must realize that we can no longer do it alone,” said Bennett. “We must embrace the basic tenet that gave rise to charter schools in the first place: Our children have different needs, and they should have more choices about where and how they are educated according to those needs.”
Bennett has been a vocal proponent for charter schools. For instance, he has spoken out against House Bill 1723, which would place a moratorium on the creation of new charter schools, and also to limit the growth of existing institutions in applicable geographic areas. The bill passed the House and is now eligible for consideration when the House/Senate budget committee conferees meet at the end of April.
“Charter schools have helped educate children that probably wouldn’t do as well in traditional public schools, such as children with substance abuse issues or children with learning disabilities,” said Bennett. “In other cases, we’ve seen innovation from charters, such as virtual education, that has spurred our traditional schools to examine their own methods and explore new ones.”
At the conference, hundreds of the state’s charter school principals, board members and service providers will explore several areas – academic performance, succession to college, tools for successful schools, and legal issues – surrounding the state’s charter schools. The conference, which is being held at the Indiana Convention Center, kicks off with an evening reception on Tuesday, April 28 and then picks up the next morning with a keynote from Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard during breakfast.