Prichard Committee to support challenge to use of tax credits for private schools

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ/Press Release) – During its quarterly board meeting Wednesday, the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence voted to stand in support of the recent lawsuit filed which challenges provisions of House Bill 563, that establishes tax credits that could be used to pay for tuition and fees at nonpublic schools.

The board of directors discussed Kentucky’s constitutional requirement for the General Assembly to “provide for an efficient system of common schools throughout the state,” and felt that state education funding must be used for public school purposes only.

“We fail to see how House Bill 563 helps Kentucky meet these constitutional obligations and we reiterate our concerns about the use of public dollars for private school scholarships,” said Prichard Committee President and CEO Brigitte Blom Ramsey.

Board members pointed out the substantial opportunity costs to enacting such policies when the state already underinvests in the adequacy and equity of our system of public education. Inadequate investment in public education threatens to reverse the progress Kentucky has made in student success and national rankings. Moreover, Kentucky remains challenged by persistent income inequality, ranking 44th among the states in the number of residents living in poverty.

“The Prichard Committee has found insufficient evidence that these types of tax credits – for which there is no accountability – are successful in enhancing academic performance in other states,” said Blom Ramsey. “Kentucky must continue to reinvest in public education, not give more tax credits. We must focus on investing in and supporting what is needed for the 648,000 Kentucky public school students, in every community, to achieve at the highest levels.”

In other business, the board of directors also approved a staff proposal to continue the development of a Center for Best Practices and Innovation that will be another tool Kentuckians can use as they leverage education to chart a path to a larger life for our citizens.

Earlier this year, Spark Base Consulting was enlisted to study the feasibility of creating this center, which will exemplify driving positive educational outcomes through local champions and stakeholders.

“The center will allow us to document examples – as part of our Groundswell Initiative – of how local innovators are making a difference for student outcomes. We will then work with stakeholders on creating repeatable habits among local champions, via toolkits, resources, and metric analyses,” said Blom Ramsey. “This will allow local champions to easily get other community members on board with ready-made action plan to begin discussions.”

During the meeting staff also announced that the Prichard Committee offices will relocate in August from downtown Lexington to an office complex located off of Winchester Road near I-75.

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