Kentucky’s Democratic Governor Andy Beshear announced that he will veto a state-wide school choice bill, despite the fact that Beshear sent his children to private schools.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Beshear said he will use his “executive authority” to veto the “Education Opportunity Account Program,” (EOA) which allows Kentucky residents to take their dollars to any school of their choice. Families would also be allowed to use the money to pay for tuition, books, uniforms, tutoring, and other school-related expenses.
EOAs are funded by taking the dollars that are typically funneled to public schools and reallocating them to the family and their school of choice. The bill text describes EOAs as a way to address educational disparities.
“The purpose of the EOA program is to give more flexibility and choice in education to Kentucky residents and to address disparities in educational options available to students,” the bill reads.
In his press briefing, Beshear claimed that EOAs divert state dollars away from public schools and educators, and they weaken the public education system.
“[This measure] represents a direct attack on public education that would significantly weaken our public education system here in Kentucky,” Beshear said. “State dollars are being diverted away from public schools and educators.”
Beshear argued that private education institutions are less accountable to families than public institutions. Corey DeAngelis, the Director of School Choice at the Reason Foundation, pointed out that underperforming private schools shut down when they fail students, meanwhile, underperforming public schools typically get more money. The incentives make private schools more accountable to students and families.
DeAngelis told The Daily Wire that he believes school choice in Kentucky threatens special interest groups, such as teacher unions, many of whom vote for Democratic candidates like Beshear.
“Choice threatens an entrenched special interest that otherwise profits from receiving children’s education dollars regardless of how well their institutions perform,” DeAngelis said. “[Beshear may be vetoing this bill] because opposition to funding students directly is more about power dynamics than logic.”
When asked about Beshear’s hypocrisy surrounding school choice, DeAngelis said he wishes that every Kentucky student was afforded the same opportunity.
“I’m glad Andy Beshear’s family had educational options,” DeAngelis said. “Every family should seek out the best opportunities for their children. But he shouldn’t fight against school choice for others.”
Beshear’s office did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication.
According to a report in The Hill, private schools have seen an increase in enrollment following the coronavirus pandemic. Given the economic toll on the virus, it would be expected that private school enrollment would have dropped. Based on survey results, one of the sole reasons private and charter schools gained enrollment was that they were more likely to remain open.
As many public schools across the country remain closed, parents are looking for alternative options to give their children the best education possible.