Not long ago, I was in Kentucky to speak to local school boards and superintendents. The walls outside the Grand Ballroom were festooned with pictures, quilts, and murals made by students from different communities. I took many photos of beautiful student work. I left with a sense that Kentucky has strong and united communities.

But the corporate reform movement can’t stand the thought of any state that hasn’t unleashed the power of competition and free enterprise, sort of like bringing Walmart into town to compete with the local stores in Main Street. So the usual right-wing funded groups have been pushing charters, promising the innovation and results that no one else has gotten.

Every year, the Republican-controlled Senate votes a charter bill, and every year the Democratic-controlled House ignores it. But this year may be different because all of the candidates for governor say they favor charters. The Democrat says he will support charters as long as they don’t take funding from public schools. Where does he think their funding comes from?

He says:

Democrat Jack Conway said in an interview he supports the concept of charters as long as they don’t take funds away from public schools.

“If it’s a charter where bureaucracy is getting out of the way and allowing for innovation, and it’s transparent, and we’re not in the situation where we’re siphoning off public dollars, then yes, I’m in for more flexibility in the public school system,” Conway said.

He added that he wants to make sure for-profit charter school companies can’t “cherry pick” the best students, leaving an underclass in the rest of the public education system.

How can he make sure that for-profit charter school companies don’t cherry pick the best students? How can he make sure that nonprofit charter schools don’t cherry pick the best students? Why does he think he can figure this out when no other state has? He should learn about the experience of Pennsylvania, where charter schools are bankrupting community public schools. Or about the many financial scandals in Ohio, Michigan, and Florida.

Why not protect the community schools of Kentucky where everyone works together for the benefit of the children?