FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky has officially joined 43 other states that allow publicly funded charter schools, providing an alternative that parents in some failing school districts had long sought.
Gov. Matt Bevin signed the charter school bill into law on Tuesday, records from the secretary of state’s office show.
Lawmakers passed the legislation last week after one final push from Bevin and Education Secretary Hal Heiner.
State Rep. Bam Carney, R-Campbellsville, said last week that 90 percent of Kentucky’s schools are providing quality educations to their students, but, he said, that leaves 10 percent that are not.
“Ninety percent, for me, isn’t good enough,” he said.
The legislation had faced major opposition from the Kentucky Education Association and many public school administrators who feared that they would lose students and state funding as the charter schools open. Bevin, however, said schools will be forced to improve their performance if they have to compete for students, as has happened in other states.
“In fact, competition has heightened everyone’s game,” he told lawmakers. “Children are better for it.”
Louisville Pastor Jerry Stephenson made a strong case for lawmakers to pass the legislation, telling them only 7 percent of black students in Jefferson Country schools meet academic standards for college, and 81 percent read below grade level.
“That’s criminal,” he said.