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Educators in Kentucky expressed their opposition to the voucher legislation that was rushed through the Legislature without careful deliberation of its likely negative impact on the state’s public schools. Nor was there any discussion of the research showing the harm that vouchers do to the children that use them or the high attrition rates of voucher schools.
Acting Fayette Superintendent Marlene Helm on Tuesday issued a strong statement before the House and Senate approved a bill in which private school tuition in Fayette and other counties could be paid from newly created education opportunity accounts.
“Quite honestly, I am dismayed that a bill of this magnitude has been brought forward this late in the session without thorough, public discussion with various stakeholders,” Helm said.
In addition to Fayette, Jefferson and Kenton counties, House Bill 563 now adds Boone, Hardin, Daviess, Warren and Campbell counties — all with populations of 90,000 — to those in which private school tuition amounts can be paid out of the scholarship funds.
The Kentucky Senate Appropriations and Revenue committee passed the bill 6-2. Later, the full Senate approved it with a 21-15 vote as did the House 48-47 in a marathon session Tuesday, the last day of the General Assembly before the veto recess. The bill will now be sent to the Governor for signing. Lawmakers will come back on March 29 and 30 to override any gubernatorial vetoes.
“This bill is dangerous. This bill is bad education policy. It’s bad fiscal policy. And its bad public policy. It does nothing to protect our students and their families or to assure that they receive a high quality education,” Kentucky Education Association President Eddie Campbell told the committee Tuesday…
In voicing his opposition, Campbell said private schools will be charging for many of the services that their tuition already covers. The services are already provided by public schools for free under the law, he said.
Campbell said the bill prohibits oversight of the education service provider that will receive the donations to distribute to families. He said providers are not required to have credentials or background checks. He said the bill opens the door for discrimination on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and other fronts…
Kentucky Education Commissioner Jason Glass said he was concerned with the bill on multiple fronts.
“It is being rushed through the legislative process with little effort at gaining input or correction of obvious flaws and predictable negative consequences which the current language contains,” Glass said after the full House vote. “This legislation is of potentially enormous consequence – which begs a more thorough approach to considering both the public school choice and tax credit aspects.”
Jim Flynn, executive director of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents, said his group remains steadfast in their opposition to any privatization of public funds for education “–this bill provides that in the form of tax credits for education opportunity accounts.”
The lobbyist for the ultra-conservative, libertarian EdChoice organization, formerly the Rose and Milton Friedman Foundation, was delighted with passage of the voucher bill. EdChoice lobbies for privatization of public schools and th