Proposed constitutional amendment would allow for education cost coverage outside public schools

Andrew Vandiver, president of EdChoice Kentucky, talks about the Constitutional amendment being proposed. If approved it would go on the ballot in November 24. (Photo by Tom Latek, Kentucky Today)

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

A proposed amendment to Kentucky’s Constitution would authorize the General Assembly to provide for the educational costs of elementary and secondary school students outside of the public school system.

A group known as EdChoice Kentucky is the driving force behind the measure, which they say would allow families to design the right learning options for their children through school choice.

Since the state Constitution was adopted in 1891, it limits education spending to “Common Schools,” in other words, public schools. Recently, the Kentucky Supreme Court threw out legislation that would allow tax dollars to fund charter schools, saying it violates the constitution. This proposal would eliminate that restriction.

During a Wednesday press conference at the Capitol Annex, Andrew Vandiver, president of EdChoice Kentucky, said the issue of school choice enjoys wide support. “Nearly 75% of Republican voters support the amendment, and nearly 60% of independent voters. That’s a strong showing for educational choice.”

Rep. Josh Calloway, R-Irvington, and a lawmaker since 2021, is the sponsor of the proposed amendment. He noted, “Last year, the people of Kentucky elected the most pro-school choice General Assembly that has ever existed. Time and again, they have spoken out loudly in support of more educational choice options.”

He says the amendment’s legislation, House Bill 174, is simple. “It asks the voters to allow the General Assembly to empower parents to send their children to a learning environment that will help them succeed and is focused on the best fit for each and every child.”

Calloway pointed out that the December Supreme Court decision did more than just ban public money for private schools. “It also set the stage to overturn decades of Kentucky’s education programs that are relied upon by families across the state of Kentucky. Things such as our bus transportation for both public and non-public school families.”

Leah Repko, a mother of school-age children in Richmond said, “I’m fortunate enough to have the means to pay for a private school that can provide the individualized attention they really needed. I know not all families have the same resources and options in Kentucky.

Supporters of the measure say more than half of the states, including all of Kentucky’s neighbors, allow funding based on school choice.

If the proposed constitutional amendment clears the General Assembly, it would go before Kentucky voters in the November 2024 general election.

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