School choice proponent slams lawsuit seeking to overturn Kentucky charter school law

Charter schools were legalized in 2017. But none have opened.
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(The Center Square) – A leading proponent for school choice in Kentucky went on the offensive Wednesday, criticizing a lawsuit filed to stop a law requiring pilot charter schools from opening in Louisville and Northern Kentucky.

Last week, the Council for Better Education, Jefferson County Public Schools and Dayton Independent Schools filed the suit to block House Bill 9 from being implemented. The bill, which lawmakers passed last year, not only calls for the pilot schools to be established but also creates a way to fund charters across the state.

Kentucky lawmakers legalized charter schools in 2017 when Republicans took over the state House of Representatives. But none have opened.

The Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, in a statement Wednesday, said the lawsuit was being driven by “opponents of educational liberty.” If the plaintiffs prevailed, the group said Kentucky families would continue to be denied access to an appealing public alternative that’s offered in 44 states and the District of Columbia.

“Such denial would also prohibit a policy that’s spurred improvements in academic performance in traditional public schools in many other places, including Indiana, Florida, Atlanta, Cleveland and Chicago,” BIPPS said. “The competition from school choice creates a rising tide that lifts all boats in public education, whether in traditional or charter schools.”

BIPPS also called out CBE for filing the lawsuit. The council represents 168 of Kentucky’s public school districts.

“Shouldn’t a group calling itself the ‘Council for Better Education’ be supporting programs that create educational success rather than spending taxpayer dollars to file lawsuits to keep such policies out of Kentucky?” the institute said.

The Kentucky Department of Education and the Board of Education are the defendants in the suit. On Tuesday, Commissioner of Education Jason Glass said the department and the board “will not expend its time and resources defending” the law. Glass added he told lawmakers last year he was concerned about whether HB 9 was constitutional.

That means it would be up to Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican, to defend the lawsuit.

The charter school lawsuit comes less than a month after the Kentucky Supreme Court struck down a school choice law that would have allowed some families in the state to receive educational opportunity accounts. Those accounts would have used to help pay for tuition to out-of-district public schools or private schools in the state’s largest counties.

Steve Bittenbender
Steve Bittenbender is a contributor for The Center Square.

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