Politics

Charter school legislation easily emerged from the Kentucky Senate’s Education Committee on Thursday, but the bill’s sponsor admits its chance of being heard in the state House is slim.

The measure proposes to use public funds to support charters piloted in Louisville and Lexington. They would be exempt from most local and state school board regulations.

Lexington Senator Alice Kerr voted in favor of the bill.

“Since 1999, there has been nothing new under the sun for our lowest achieving students to achieve,” Kerr said. “So, why wouldn’t we use some of our money to try this?”

Testifying against the charter school bill was Kentucky Education Association President Stephanie Winkler. She said research shows students fair as well or better in public schools as in charters.

“Why in the world do lawmakers spend so much time and energy creating language that has no hope of increasing student achievement?” she said.

Proponents say charter schools offer new strategies for tackling the achievement gap. Sen. Mike Wilson of Bowling Green, who sponsored the bill, said tuition-free charters would not be affiliated with any religious organization.

Wilson said he anticipates passage in the Senate but doubts the bill will be heard in the House, where Democrats hold the majority.