Controversial ‘school choice’ bill narrowly passes in Kentucky House

Published 5:45 am Friday, March 12, 2021

A controversial “school choice” bill narrowly passed in Kentucky’s House of Representatives after three hours of debate Thursday evening.

House Bill 563, which passed by a 51-45 vote,  creates “education opportunity accounts.” The money from these accounts can be used to pay for everything from online classes to tutoring and in the case of Jefferson, Fayette and Kenton counties private school tuition. A floor amendment added to the bill allowed for funds to be used for private schools in those counties.

According to the measure, the accounts would be funded using tax-deductible donations. Low-income families could then apply for an account. The money would largely be limited to use in public schools and require districts to develop open enrollment policies to accept students from neighboring districts.

Supporters say the bill would give disadvantaged students a way out of struggling schools. They say the funds could be spent on mental health services, early literacy efforts and other educational opportunities.

Critics of the bill say it’s an attempt to erode public education in favor of private schools. Some education supporters fear that the bill creates a path for charter schools to open.

HB 563 now goes to the Senate.