The Bluegrass Institute and the Kentucky Pastors in Action Coalition held a very interesting conference in Louisville on October 26, 2020 with US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. The meeting provided a chance for the secretary to hear from a number of black leaders in Louisville and also gave her a chance to make some important comments about the impact of COVID-19 on public education along with several important announcements about important changes in the school choice landscape that have occurred due to recent US Supreme Court decisions.
A few key points from Secretary DeVos’ presentation:
- A lot of already allocated federal CARES Act money to deal with COVID-19 impacts has yet to be utilized and she encourages state and local education systems do take advantage of this aid;
- COVID-19 related distance learning is problematic and kids benefit most when they are actually in a brick and mortar school;
- The secretary encouraged Kentucky to get more serious about school choice including creating charter schools;
- DeVos also pointed to recent court cases and interpretations from the US Department of Justice that changes the rules for funding religiously affiliated charter schools. Such schools are now eligible for federal funds;
- DeVos also said that other recent Supreme Court action has made so-called Blaine Amendments found in many state constitutions, including Kentucky’s, unconstitutional. Such amendments prohibit providing public dollars for private and religious schools.
Billy Kobin, an education reporter with the Courier-Journal, nicely captured a number of highlights in the event in his Monday news article along with a nice video extract with a few remarks from Bluegrass Institute CEO Jim Waters and the Kentucky Pastors in Action Coalition head Pastor Jerry Stephenson in addition to the formal presentation from Secretary DeVos. You can view that here.
This 10-minute video is well worth your time. Also, stay tuned because a lot more happened than can be captured in a news article and a short video. We hope to have that for you shortly.