Bevin hopes charter school issue wins support from African Ameri - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Bevin hopes charter school issue wins support from African Americans in governor's race

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Are they an innovative way to educate struggling students, or a potential drain on traditional public schools?

The debate over charter schools is spilling into in the final days of the governor's race.

It's an issue that Republican Matt Bevin hopes will win support from traditionally Democratic voters.

“Education is the number one issue. There is no other issue on the ballot,” thundered Pastor Jerry Stephenson to a crowd packed into the basement of a church in the California neighborhood.

It's the issue that brought Republican Matt Bevin and running mate Jenean Hampton into west Louisville, the heart of traditionally Democratic territory.

“I'm asking you to vote your values and not your party,” said Bevin to a chorus of “amens” and applause.

Bevin is supporting the efforts of a coalition of black ministers pushing for school choice.

They want charter schools, which are independently operated but receive public funds, and vouchers to help parents pay for private education.

“Thank you for coming out in support of what we're doing. This means a lot to us,” Stephenson, the coalition’s leader, told Bevin.

The issue may be gaining traction in the African American community, but Bevin is downplaying the politics of it.

“This isn't about how many votes we get, clearly that matters for November 3. But this is an issue whose time has come. This is an issue that must be addressed,” he told WDRB.

Democrat Jack Conway says he supports innovation but nothing that takes funding away from traditional public schools.

In a speech Tuesday, he blasted Bevin's support of vouchers.

“Just give money to parents for public schools, private schools, or for home schooling? He would decimate public education in this state,” said Conway.

Conway supporters believe even African Americans who may favor school choice will not let that one issue decide their vote.

“It is not the only issue on the table, and we should not be only looking at education, dealing with these issues, as a silver bullet for solving a range of challenges that we face,” State Rep. Reggie Meeks (D-Louisville).

But Democrat Tonya Sutton says she likes what she heard from Bevin.

“It basically opened up my eyes to a lot of what's going on, and what could change. And I think it's a good thing. We need a change,” said Sutton.

The ministers say they are not telling anyone who to vote for. But they add, they will let everyone know supports their cause.

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