Ky. Pastors in Action Coalition seeks to close gap between black - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Ky. Pastors in Action Coalition seeks to close gap between black, white students

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A group of African American ministers calls it "the civil rights issue of the 21st century," and they're calling for dramatic changes in the educational system.

"We are sick and tired of our children failing and coming home, and their future is gone," thundered Rev. Milton Seymore of the Justice Resource Center.

It sounds like a Sunday morning sermon, but these pastors are preaching the gospel of education reform.

"If we as good people don't stand up and begin to fight for our children, we are just going to continue to see a cycle of poverty, a cycle of crime because they are not being educated properly," said Rev. Shannon Cook, pastor of Dunamis World Outreach Church.

The latest test scores show low-income and minority students in JCPS continuing to lag behind their peers.

The Kentucky Pastors In Action Coalition is calling for an overhaul of the system to include public charter schools and tax credits to help parents pay for private schools.

"We have to do everything we can to make sure that the children in our area and in Kentucky succeed. So we need to make sure we have choice and options," Cook told WDRB News..

JCPS acknowledges the achievement gap and, during a news conference last week, Chief Academic Officer Dewey Hensley called closing that gap a "moral imperative."

"The further back a student group is, the more support we provide them. We invest resources, expertise, staffing," he said.

JCPS supporters say it will take time to see results.

"There is very little evidence that the quick fix that they're looking for is going to be had by charter schools," said Rep. Reginald Meeks (D-Louisville) a member of the House Education Committee.

But members of the coalition say they've waited long enough, and they believe the governor's race holds the key to moving their agenda.

"It's very important. We're calling on those candidates to pass charter schools in Kentucky, to make it part of their platform," said Cook.

While the pastors did not explicitly endorse Matt Bevin, they say he comes closest to their positions.

"The next governor has got to spend some political capital," said Pastor Jerry Stephenson of the Midwest Church of Christ.

The Bevin campaign confirms he does support the coalition's agenda.

The Conway camp says he's for innovation, but nothing that will take funds away from the public schools.

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