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Bevin says he will champion ‘school choice,’ wants better prepared graduates, calls KEA too powerful

Special to KyForward

In his first post-election comments on education, Gov.-elect Matt Bevin said that Kentucky needs “competition” for its state tax dollars, and he wants to start with public charter schools to replace historically low-performing traditional public schools.

Bevin, speaking on the Mandy Connell talk show on WHAS Radio in Louisville last night, reaffirmed the support he voiced during his gubernatorial campaign for charter schools as a means of strengthening the state’s public education system.

Matt Bevin (KSBA photo)

Matt Bevin (KSBA photo)

“We are one of seven states that offers absolutely no competition for public education dollars. This is one of the reasons we are behind other states. We’ve got to introduce school choice into the state of Kentucky,” the Louisville Republican said.

“Let’s walk before we run,” he added. “Let’s start with our failing schools in Jefferson County, Fayette County and other failing schools where decade after decade they’ve been failing.

“Let’s start with public charter schools, and put them in those communities where young people are being destined for failure by having to go to these failing schools. Why would we not? Who could possibly, with a straight face and in good conscience, make the case for why a young person should be destined to go to a failing school? I cannot fathom it. I will not tolerate it as governor. We will bring school choice to Kentucky and it will improve our educational results in our public schools without any question in my mind,” Bevin said.

The governor-elect said education in Kentucky “has suffered,” but he said the blame doesn’t rest with classroom teachers.

“We have not exactly led the nation in terms of results in our education system. Sadly, it has nothing to do with the fact that we have a tremendous number of qualified teachers. We’ve got extraordinarily good teachers, and many of them. But they are handcuffed by so much bureaucracy, so much red tape,” he said.

“The teachers union has become too powerful in this state, and it’s become powerful at the expense of the teachers themselves and of the students. We say it’s about the students, but it’s not. It’s about power and control,” Bevin said.

“At the end of the day, we’ve got to make sure that we are educating our young people to be ready to go into the postsecondary world, into the workforce, on to graduate school, on to traditional college or even vocational training. They are not being well-prepared,” he said.

Bevin said he plans to begin making announcements about his transition team and key governor’s office staff appointments Thursday and Friday.

From Kentucky School Boards Association eNews service

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