Conway could support charter schools depending on legislation, wants to hear from teachers on academic standards

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Conway says he could be supportive of innovative charter schools depending on the way the legislation is written and believes common core is working and should stay in place with some possible tweaks.

In the Kentucky Chamber’s Primary Voter Guide, Conway said he supports “school innovations like charter schools as long as resources and funds aren’t diverted away from Kentucky’s public schools” and stated that the charters must be held to the same standards as our public schools.

Charter schools are implemented differently based on the language in the enacting legislation.

During the 2015 session, the charter schools bill pushed by Sen. Mike Wilson would have set up public charter schools in low performing areas through pilot projects and would have been held to the same standards and would not have diverted funds as Wilson noted the money “follows the student” in these cases.

When asked whether or not he would sign a bill like that into law if he was elected governor, Conway said he would have to look over the details of the legislation.

“I would say that if you have innovations, if you have pilot programs, I can support the concept of a charter school as long as it is within the context of public education and creating competition within public education,” Conway said (at 2:00). “I also want it to be transparent. So if we are throwing off the shackles of bureaucracy and encouraging our schools to innovate and do a better job, I can support that.”

Conway said what he does not want from a charter school is a for-profit company coming in and running such a school and “cherry-picking” students.

“So, the devil is in the details with charter schools,” Conway said.

Also in the Chamber’s Primary Voter Guide, Conway was the only one of six candidates to support the rigorous education standards in the state but has said he is in favor of any changes that need to be made.

In terms of any specific changes people want to see made, Conway said he wants to hear from the teachers about what steps need to come next.

“If teachers aren’t satisfied with what they are teaching in the classroom, or if they want to teach more engineering and mathematics, maybe we need to do that,” Conway said (at 1:00). “But just to rail against common core and claim it is a federal takeover of education when it is really not, it seems to me like you are being disingenuous with the public when you do that.”

Full interview segment with Conway on education issues below:

Watch the Chamber’s interview with Republican candidate Matt Bevin on the state’s academic standards here.

More interview segments with all candidates in the 2015 governor’s race will be posted on Bottom Line leading up to the November elections.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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