FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - A group of Kentuckians is trying to put education in the spotlight the same day the General Assembly opens its session. The group is pushing for charter schools and taking to the airwaves to get out its message with a television ads that started airing Tuesday.
The ad opens with kids saying what they want to be when they grow up, while text on the screen reads: "65 percent of Kentucky 4th graders are not proficient in reading."
The group is called Kentuckians Advocating Reform in Education which is chaired by Hal Heiner, a former Louisville Metro Council member and Republican mayoral candidate.
"In the face of a struggling economy and job opportunities increasingly requiring higher levels of education and training, a good education customized to every child's needs is essential to a child's future success and ultimately will determine the future of our Commonwealth," stated Heiner in a press release.
Their solution is public charter schools, which are tuition free and generally have fewer restrictions than traditional schools. A charter school bill passed the Senate last year, but the Chair of the House Education Committee, State Rep. Carl Rollins, didn't even take it to a vote. The House Speaker supported that at the time, but indicated things could be different this year.
"I'm open to listening, but I have reservations because we can't allow our public schools to be impacted negatively," said Rep. Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg.
Meanwhile the Senate President blames the state's lack of charter schools as the reason Kentucky lost out on federal education funding.
"We've missed out on significant funding in the state of Kentucky as far as Race to the Top over several years because we didn't have charter school legislation," said Sen. David Williams, R-Burkesville.
Rep. Brad Montell, R-Shelbyville, prefiled a bill in November that would establish a charter schools initiative in Kentucky.
"Our current public school system works fairly well for many of our students. But unfortunately far too many of them are falling through the cracks," said Montell in a press release after prefiling the bill. "About 25 percent of Kentucky's public school students don't graduate, and of those that do 6 out of every 10 need remediation before they can attend college. What's more, the achievement gap between white students and minority students is staggering. Across the country, many public charter schools have demonstrated the ability to drastically improve high school graduation rates and close the achievement gap."
You can view the ad online.