FRANKFORT, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Passions swelled and eyes filled with tears as the Kentucky Charter Schools debate raged at the Capitol.
“It is time to stop playing partisan games, to do what has been done which is to reach across the aisle, to put partisanship aside, and to actually lead on what is best for the children of Kentucky,” Gov. Bevin said.
From the start of testimony at the early morning House Education Committee hearing tears welled in the eyes of Governor Matt Bevin on one side and the Kentucky Educators Association on the other.
"As an educator myself, I can tell you how to help the neediest students achieve success, but the answer is certainly not through the creation of charter schools,” KEA President Stephanie Winkler said.
The Governor found himself defending the plan that would create privately managed, publicly funded public charter schools.
Mayors of Louisville and Lexington would have a say in which charter schools are approved but those running a school could appeal to the state board of education if denied a charter.
Advocates for the schools had their say with the governor, but the bill appears destined for a full house vote regardless with committee divisions down party lines.
Once on the floor more passionate arguments flowed. Many included tearful stories.
Republican Adam Koenig was for the plan claiming he was victim of school bureaucracy as a child. There was also an element of race in several of the arguments with those opposed questioning whether HB520 would segregate schools.
Those for the measure fired back claiming that a parent’s choice was more important than any concern about demographics.
Louisville Democrat Reginald Meeks argued that the plan would set back the Jefferson County Public Schools and efforts gaining traction in Kentucky. “Don’t let us go back. Don’t send us back by passing House Bill 520.”
HB520 passed the House in a 56-39 vote.
The Senate must pass the plan before Gov. Bevin can sign it into law, but the Senate's past support of the topic and Republican leadership leave few doubting that charter schools will be a reality in Kentucky.