At a legislative event hosted by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the divisive issue of charter schools and parent choice took center stage.
As one of eight states without charter school legislation on its books, the debate in Kentucky is only getting louder as the January session of the General Assembly draws closer.
Wayne Lewis of the Kentucky Charter Schools Association and charter opponent Mary Ruble, assistant executive director of the Kentucky Education Association, duked it out over the course of an hour. Lewis rebutted claims that charters, on average, don’t outperform their traditional public counterparts while drawing resources away from them.
“If parents are not satisfied with what they receive in a school, whether it be a charter school or a traditional public school, I believe those parents ought to have the right to take their kids out and send them somewhere else, and those funds should follow those children wherever they should go," Lewis said.
Ruble countered, saying that simply building more schools isn’t the answer.
“The idea of opening more charter schools to fix what’s wrong with public schools doesn’t make anymore sense than opening more public schools to fix what’s wrong with public schools," Ruble said. "That’s what they’re saying: They’re more public schools, open more of them. This doesn’t make any sense to me.”
The chamber of commerce supports charter school laws. Last January, an effort by Senate Republicans to transform persistently low-achieving public schools into charters stalled in the Democratic controlled House.