December 20, 2022

Andy Spears: Kentucky Court Kills Vouchers While Tennessee Looks to Expand Them

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Andy Spears, writing for the Education Report, finds two southern states moving in opposite directions.

The Kentucky Supreme Court last week killed the legislature’s plan to implement a school voucher scheme in the Bluegrass State.

Spectrum News 1 reports:

House Bill 563, dubbed the Education Opportunity Account Act or the school choice bill, was ruled unconstitutional and struck down by the Kentucky Supreme Court in a unanimous decision affirming Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd’s ruling.

Advocates for fiscal responsibility hailed the move and urged lawmakers to find ways to better fund Kentucky’s public schools:

The Kentucky Center for Economic Policy’s senior fellow, Pam Thomas, said in a statement Thursday’s ruling should motivate lawmakers to focus on strengthening public education.

“Lawmakers should now turn their attention away from inequitable and unconstitutional voucher programs and focus on their Constitutional mandate to ‘provide for an efficient system of common schools throughout the state.’ That means providing adequate funding to the many different components of successful public schools, including skilled teachers, up-to-date instructional materials, non-academic supports and safe learning environments. That’s how we ensure that all Kentucky children thrive, no matter their race, family income or zip code,” Thomas said.

The unanimous decision likely dooms future attempts at school privatization through vouchers in Kentucky.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Tennessee, efforts are underway to expand privatization by way of both vouchers and charter schools.

Chalkbeat reports that Hamilton County state Senator Todd Gardenhire has introduced legislation that would expand the program to schools in Chattanooga.

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