Outside group promotes Conway’s early childhood education plan in pair of ads

A group supporting Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway’s early childhood education platform will begin airing a pair of 60-second television ads in Louisville and Lexington media markets.

The People’s Campaign, which raised $16,500 from Sept. 3 through Oct. 2, according to its 32-day pre-election campaign finance report, tagged state Sen. Reginald Thomas and Rep. George Brown for its Lexington spot and former Rep. Eleanor Jordan for its Louisville ad. Both pieces tout the impact of spending in early childhood education, particularly in preventing truancy, teen pregnancy and incarceration and keeping students in school.

The ad, like a competing spot against Conway’s stance on charter schools by Americans for Prosperity’s Kentucky chapter that utilizes Louisville parents and grandparents, looks to appeal to African-American voters, using footage of African-American children and adults throughout.

“Jack Conway wants to expand the income eligibility requirements so that more of our children can attend public preschool,” Jordan, who serves as executive director of the Kentucky Commission on Women, says in the ad.

“In contrast, Republican Matt Bevin has said early childhood programs currently in place serve no purpose. This is just one of the reasons I strongly urge you to vote for Jack Conway for governor.”

The Louisville ad can be seen here:

The Lexington spot can be viewed here:

Conway and Democrats have seized on Bevin’s remark during a May 11 KET Republican primary debate in which he said Head Start, a federal school readiness program for low-income families, “serves no purpose” once students reach the third grade. He instead called for a re-evaluation of money spent in such programs.

In response to the ads, Bevin campaign spokeswoman Jessica Ditto criticized Conway’s support of Common Core and said Bevin wants to improve educational competitiveness.

“Matt’s plan is to invest in early childhood education in the smartest way possible to produce long-term benefits for our early learners,” Ditto said in a statement. “In typical career politician fashion, Jack Conway pushes the status quo and wants to throw more money at the problem with no plan for how he will pay for it.

“Kentucky’s public schools continue to trail behind the schools of neighboring states, ranking 37th in eighth grade math and 33rd in eighth grade writing. Kentucky doesn’t have to settle for bottom of the list. Matt’s plan will incentive and support an education system that has more choices, higher standards, and better results.”

In a phone interview with Pure Politics late Saturday, Thomas said he believes Conway, if elected, would follow through on his campaign platform to expand public preschool eligibility to 200 percent within four years. When asked about funding that proposal, Thomas said gradual budgetary steps would need to be taken.

With his support of charter schools and vouchers, Thomas said Bevin “is taking an all-out assault on public education.”

“It’s given us the wherewithal to build strong families, a strong middle class and opportunities for advancement throughout all our society,” the Lexington Democrat said of public education. “I don’t want to see that eroded.”

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