Efforts to pave the way for school-choice are well underway in Kentucky.
House Republicans introduced a bill Friday that would place school choice on the ballot in November, the second such bill introduced this session.
HB 2 would add a new section to the Kentucky state constitution, explicitly allowing educational funding outside the public school system. The amendment gives lawmakers the authority to craft education-related laws “in particular places it deems proper.”
A similar constitutional amendment proposal was filed Jan. 12, however it contains more restrictive language.
That measure, HB 208, proposes to amend a section of Kentucky’s constitution. The amended section would allow for the state to cover educational costs specifically for “students outside of the system of common schools for parents of limited financial means.”
It would also forbid the Legislature from using money “taken directly from the common school fund.”
However, HB 2 does not limit educational funds only to families in need, and it doesn’t include restrictions on the use of “common-school” funds.
Common schools are understood to refer to public schools.
Both amendments are set to be heard in committee. House Republicans will have to decide which bill to advance.
The push to advance a school-choice constitutional amendment follows a recent Kentucky Supreme Court decision ruling charter schools as unconstitutional. Judge Phillip Shepherd found that charter schools are “private entities” that do not meet the Kentucky Constitution’s definition of “public schools” or “charter schools.”
The state constitution specifically limits state funds to “an efficient system of common schools.”
According to Jim Waters, President and CEO of the Bluegrass Institute, right now the goal for House Republicans is not to determine specific school-choice policies but to “remove all the obstacles to any of those policies that we want to pursue in the future.”