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Fight over school choice amendment ramping up in Kentucky

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Posted at 5:05 PM, Jun 11, 2024

The fight over Amendment number two is ramping up to be Kentucky's biggest ballot battle this November.

Amendment number two is the school choice amendment. If passed, the state constitution would be changed to include this text: "The General Assembly may provide financial support for the education of students outside the system of common schools.”

Currently, taxpayer dollars can only go to "common" schools, which are public schools. But the proposed change would allow state lawmakers to allocate public funds to private and charter schools, if they choose to do so.

But a group of public education supporters hope that voters don't give lawmakers that ability.

Protect Our Schools Kentucky, a group working to "protect Kentucky’s public schools and defeat Amendment 2," made its pitch at Frederick Douglass High School in Lexington on Tuesday.

FCPS School Board Chairman Tyler Murphy said the amendment "would be disastrous for public education."

"It would erode this foundation of democracy by channeling public dollars to unaccountable private schools – private schools that are not required to comply with state accountability and assessment standards. Private schools that do not have to function with transparency and openness. Private schools that can exclude students, ignore special education protections, and bypass curriculum requirements," said Murphy.

Jessica Hiler, who is the Fayette County Education Association President, a teacher, and parent to FCPS students

"Simply put, vouchers divert critical resources away from our public schools, where we are committed to educating every child," said Jessica Hiler, a teacher and Fayette County Education Association. "Funding private schools with public dollars will put a strain on our already underfunded public schools, and negatively affect our students. Period. In recent years our public schools have been under attack, and Amendment 2 - the voucher amendment - is just another example of an attempt to undermine public education.”

However, not everyone opposes school choice.

EdChoice Kentucky is a group working to bring school choice to Kentucky. The group's website lists its goal as "helping Kentucky students."

"The same education doesn't work for every child - learning styles and abilities are as unique as each child," the website goes on to say. "Kentucky students deserve a choice in their education. Education Choice is a common-sense solution."

The group supports Amendment 2 because it believes using taxpayer funds on private and charter schools would provide Kentucky families with options.

"EdChoice Kentucky is committed to ALL Kentucky students having access to the best educational opportunities," the group's spokesperson said in a statement. "Parents know what would meet the educational needs of their child and they should have the access to make that choice."