2024 General Assembly Bill Round Up

Two reporters for The New Edu outline education bills they followed throughout this legislative session, and highlight some of the most prominent changes being discussed in the education system right now.

On a purple background, "general assembly bill round up" is spelled out in letters cut out from magazine pages. A purple megaphone sits in the far left corner.

Convening on January 2nd and adjourning on April 15th, Kentucky’s 2024 General Assembly passed more than 160 bills, covering a wide range of topics from self-driving cars to horse racing. At Kentucky Student Voice Team, our Legislative Policy team has been focused on providing insight into how the many education-related bills will impact Kentucky students. We have reported on 45 bills in our bill tracker, written 30 bill briefs, met with legislators at the capitol, and even wrote and filed a bill of our own related to increasing student representation on school boards. The following is a list of some of the different education bills that we followed this legislative session. This also highlights some of the most prominent changes being discussed in our education system right now.

SB 6: Defunding DEI

While Senate Bill 6 was passed in the Senate initially, it underwent immense changes in the House that the Senate could not agree upon before the end of the legislative session. This bill would have prevented public universities from teaching “discriminatory concepts” related to DEI and defunded DEI offices and training. It also proposed ending race-based scholarships and diversity statements. Republican supporters of this bill and other anti-DEI legislation have argued that public universities have become wrought with “liberal ideologies” that lead to more division. KSVT opposes this bill because, while it was made under the guise of creating more diverse and accepting college campuses, it really aims to defund initiatives that would ensure equitable access to education for all students.

HB 162: Math education

HB 163, signed into law on April 19, will add math instruction to reading and writing as areas essential for schools to provide comprehensive instruction in. It mandates that schools give robust support for students to engage in math at an efficient level in grades K-12, which the Department of Education will help to ensure. Students can also receive additional help in math through a multi-tiered system of support at school, district, and state levels. KSVT supports this legislation as it is a step in the right direction toward quality education for each Kentucky student by advocating for a better learning experience and individualized instruction.

HB 381: Student rep on school boards

While HB 381 did not make it out of committee, it would have required all local school boards to include a non-voting student representative who could provide a student perspective and learn about school governance. KSVT is in strong support of this bill as it would have amplified student voices statewide. It is important to provide students with more opportunities like this that allow them to voice their perspectives on the decisions that will affect them. 

HB 377: Helping new teachers

HB 377 was signed into law on April 9 and will establish the Teacher Recruitment Student Loan Forgiveness Pilot Program, which will give up to $5,000 per semester to students with financial need enrolled in study programs to receive teacher certification. It also creates the Student Teacher Stipend Program, which will work to reduce financial barriers for students aiming to enter the education workforce. KSVT is supportive of this legislation because it is a step toward providing future teachers with more equitable access to education.

HB 2: Vouchers and funding to private schools

House Bill 2 was passed in the legislature this March and will now appear on the ballot this November, asking Kentuckians if the Constitution should be amended to allow the legislature to give money to non-public schools. This could include voucher programs or the opening of charter schools. This bill aims to increase the opportunities for more students to attend non-public schools. However, KSVT opposes this measure as public dollars should be used to support public schools. Private schools are able to deny enrollment to students and are not held to the same standards as public schools. Additionally, many rural areas have less access to choice in private schools than in more urban areas. 

HB 96: Moment of silence

HB 96, which passed out of the House but did not get a vote in the Senate, would have required schools to set aside one to two minutes at the start of each school day for "a moment of silence or reflection." The bill states that each student may choose how to spend this minute, whether it be meditating, praying, or some other silent activity. KSVT recognizes that allowing students to choose whether or not they'd like to participate in a religious activity during this time is good. However, of all the issues today's students are facing, we do not feel the lack of a silent minute is the most pertinent.

HB 535: Civics education

House Bill 535 was passed into law on April 9th. The bill mandates all Kentucky students must pass a civics test or complete a ½ course credit course in civic literacy in order to graduate. The bill also increases the score required to pass the civics test from 60% to 70%, and students can take it as many times as needed. It also defines which areas will be taught in the civics course, including the Constitution, the roles of state and local governments, America’s founding history, and more. KSVT is in support of this bill as an adequate education in civics is integral to producing students who are prepared to engage in state politics and become involved citizens after high school. 

HB 446: Transportation

HB 446, which passed into law on March 22, would carry out amendments to require local school boards to adopt a transportation services policy. The bill aims to create more accountability for student behavior on school buses by requiring districts to create bus behavior policies both students and parents must sign. Additionally, the bill creates a process for drivers to report misconduct and potentially revoke bus riding privileges for students who break the rules. KSVT supports this bill due to its intent to establish appropriate public school transportation policies. Additionally, bill sponsors hope that improving bus conduct will help solve the driver shortage the state is facing.

SB 2: School resource officers

Senate Bill 2 was passed into law without the governor's signature on April 10. The bill is an act relating to student safety and mental health. The bill introduces the role of armed "guardians" in school buildings to provide additional school safety. While KSVT recognizes the effort to increase student safety and finds other components of the bill such as increased Suicide Prevention resources important, we believe that increasing the number of weapons of any kind in schools to be problematic. 

SB 80: Bans student IDs for voter identification

Senate Bill 80 would have banned the use of student IDs as valid forms of voter identification. The bill passed in the Senate, but did not receive a vote in the House. KSVT was not in support of this bill as we believe it would have disenfranchised young voters. Voter turnout is already incredibly low in our state, especially among college-aged voters, the primary age group this bill would have affected. Banning the use of student IDs at the polls only creates more hoops voters have to jump through in order to exercise their constitutional right. Read more here.

Original graphic by Ava Hurwitz.


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