Policy

Advocating for Kentucky Students in Frankfort

The Kentucky Student Voice Team tracks and advocates for policies as a part of our larger organizational mission to co-create more just, democratic schools and communities and ensure that the voices of Kentucky students inform education decision making at every level.

As part of this work, we advance broad student representation on school governance bodies and advocate for policies that advance educational equity and excellence.

Our Priorities

During the legislative session, we prioritize 8 key issues facing Kentucky students.

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student representation

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diversity, equity and inclusion

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administrative transparency

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mental health

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school funding

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attendance and truancy

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college preparation and accessibility

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student censorship

what we support

our Values

In order for us to determine whether and how to publicly support a bill or policy, we first ask ourselves a series of questions. We do so to ensure we are consistent with our mission and can leverage both the lived experiences and expert knowledge of Kentucky's students to make the most impact.

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Do the voices of Kentucky students make a difference?

We prioritize education issues for which the voices and perspectives of Kentucky students, and especially those that may be the least heard, bring unique added value to the conversation.

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Does KSVT in particular bring a unique perspective to the issue?

There are many education issues for which it makes sense for youth-centered groups and students beyond our organization to be out front. Before determining how visible we want to be in supporting a policy or bill, we consider that and ask ourselves if the KSVT can add an essential perspective to a public conversation that is otherwise missing.

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Does it fit within our mission statement?

We want to be sure any bill or policy we support aligns with our mission to co-create more just, democratic Kentucky schools and communities.

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Is it bipartisan?

To ensure both credibility and lasting impact and to honor our nonprofit status, any legislation we prioritize should have some bipartisan support.

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Is the legislation meaningful?

The legislation in question should advance a cause and have a measurable impact on Kentucky students.

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Can we build on existing energy to advance this cause?

We are most effective when we can build on existing community energy and work in coalition around an issue. To do that, we look to partner with people who are fueled by  credible research and who are committed, as we are, to advancing education justice.

2024 regular session bills

What's on our radar

House Bill 383: AN ACT relating to technology in public schools.

Status

In 2nd Reading, to House Rules Commitee

Bill Summary

House Bill 383 would require school districts to include a ban on personal device usage by students during instructional time unless there is an emergency or they are instructed to use their personal device by a teacher with the exception of devices allowed for disabilities. Districts must include violations of this policy in their disciplinary plan for unauthorized personal device usage.

KSVT Take

While KSVT acknowledges the disruptions that personal device usage can have in the classroom, a complete ban is likely to reduce the educational opportunities that cell phone usage can create and would be difficult to implement and enforce.

Read the Bill

House Bill 2: AN ACT proposing to create a new section of the Constitution of Kentucky relating to education funding

Status

Introduced in House to Committee on Committees

Bill Summary

This bill proposes an amendment to the Kentucky Constitution that would enable the General Assembly to give funding to K-12 students outside of public schools. Voters in the Commonwealth could then vote to ratify or reject the amendment. The Secretary of State will also ensure that the entirety of the amendment is published in a newspaper prior to the amendment's appearance on the ballot.

KSVT Take

KSVT is not in support of this bill because Kentucky should be focused on improving the already inadequate funding for public schools and disparities across school districts, rather than diverting money to private schools. This could lead to decreased quality in public education, therefore hurting low-income students who don’t have the means to attend private schools.

Read the Bill

House Bill 275: AN ACT relating to misconduct in schools and school-sponsored activities.

Status

Introduced in Senate to Committee on Committees

Bill Summary

House Bill 275 relates to misconduct in schools and school-sponsored activities. The bill creates a new section of KRS Chapter 160, prohibiting public schools from entering into a nondisclosure agreement "relating to misconduct involving a minor or student." The bill also amends KRS 160.380 to define Abusive Conduct. Other amendments include requiring school district applicants to disclose being the subject of any allegations or investigations in the previous 12 months and consent to a reference check conducted by the school district. The bill requires nonpublic and public school districts to disclose any allegations or investigations related to the abusive conduct of applicants, outlines requirements for obtaining related records, and creates new application requirements. House Bill 275 requires that school districts internally report and thoroughly investigate all allegations of abusive conduct, keeping records of the investigation in an employee's personnel file unless proven false. In relation to private schools, the bill amends KRS 156.160 to encourage the board of education to include employment standards in the voluntary certification standards for private schools, and defines "certified nonpublic school." Employees of nonpublic schools must meet certain requirements including, having background checks and reference checks, while prohibiting the hiring of a violent or felony sex crime offender. These schools are also prohibited from entering a non-disclosure agreement mentioned previously.  Lastly, the bill requires that the Kentucky Department of Education develop training related to sexual misconduct for employees to undergo every five years.

KSVT Take

KSVT supports this bill as it reinforces administrative transparency and a includes measures meant to produce safe school settings.

Read the Bill

House Bill 96: AN ACT relating to moments of silence and reflection.

Status

Introduced in Senate to Committee on Committees

Bill Summary

HB 96 would require 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 Take

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 issues today's students are facing, we do not feel the lack of a silent minute is the most pertinent.

Read the Bill

House Bill 301: AN ACT relating to school lunches.

Status

Introduced to House Committee on Committees

Bill Summary

This bill would require a school council to adopt a policy for students to be assigned a lunch period of at least 30 minutes in length.

KSVT Take

KSVT supports this bill due to requiring an appropriate lunch time for Kentucky students, some of whom may be at school for extended hours.

Read the Bill

House Bill 119: AN ACT relating to interscholastic extracurricular activities.

Status

Introduced to House Education Committee

Bill Summary

This bill would authorize an at home private school student's  participation in a public school interscholastic activity. Guidelines for participation would be established, and the parent, guardian, or teacher of the at home private school student involved in extracurricular would be required to verify the student's academic progress. If a public school student does not meet the public school's academic standards, withdraws, and enters an at-home private school program, they would be inelegible for participation.

KSVT Take

KSVT supports this bill due to extracurriculars being an integral part of many students' lifestyle that should be available for public and private students alike.

Read the Bill

House Bill 224: AN ACT relating to constitutional freedoms at public postsecondary education institutions.

Status

Introduced in House to Committee on Committees

Bill Summary

HB 224 would amend KRS 164.348, which protects freedom of speech and expression for students and faculty in public post-secondary education institutions. This new bill would extend these protections to the public and protect off-campus speech as well. Additionally, institutions cannot retaliate against campus community members complaining about a violation of these rights, and faculty and administrators who restrict speech may be disciplined. Students and their organizations will not be discriminated against for their religious or political viewpoints in their classes, access to facilities, or organization of internal affairs. This bill also clarifies that institutions do not have to grant groups unaffiliated with the institution the same free speech privileges as student organizations. Students may not disrupt the expression of others in a previously reserved space. There also must be a viewpoint-neutral distribution of funds to student organizations and published funding reports. The Council on Postsecondary Education will develop instructional materials and model trainings for institutions and faculty.

KSVT Take

This bill is admirable in its attempts to protect the right to freedom of speech, however it is unclear why these protections should be extended to the public if they are unaffiliated with the institution. This bill could also be interpreted to prevent speech by any counter-protesters on campus.

Read the Bill

House Bill 208: AN ACT proposing an amendment to Section 183 of the Constitution of Kentucky relating to education funding

Status

Floor Amendment Filed

Bill Summary

HB 208 would amend section 183 of the Kentucky Constitution so that the General Assembly would oversee and provide for a portion of a students' educational costs outside of the public school system. As long as funds don't come from the school fund then sections 184 to 189 of the Kentucky Constitution should not prevent from providing educational costs for students outside of the public school system. In addition, a general vote on the amount of educational costs provided will be neither prevented nor rejected.

KSVT Take

KSVT is in support of this bill as the purpose of it is to provide equal opportunity to students of parents with limited financial means. Since a major obstacle for students when pursuing educational opportunities outside of school can be a lack of financial means, this bill aids in leveling the playing field for students across the state.

Read the Bill

House Bill 139: AN ACT relating to the KentuckyCYBER Program and making an appropriation therefor

Status

Introduced in House to Committee on Committees

Bill Summary

This bill will create a new section of KRS Chapter 164 that establishes the KentuckyCYBER Program within the Council on Postsecondary Education. This program will work to create a secure cyberinfrastructure by educating and developing training programs to create a workforce ready to meet cybersecurity challenges. Public and private post-secondary institutions or institutions licensed by the council may choose to participate, but will not be required to carry out the following provisions. Participating institutions will provide cybersecurity resources and advice to assist the state and local government, policymakers, major economic sectors, and infrastructure systems operators. They should facilitate cyber-innovation, which is meant to strengthen Kentucky’s cybersecurity defenses. These institutions will also create cybersecurity research centers to support research on projects funded by the federal government and private industry participants. Participating institutions can apply for funds, which are subject to approval by the KentuckyCYBER Governing Board that is to be created. The KentuckyCYBER fund will consist of money appropriated by the General Assembly and any other contributions or grants. Money given to a specific university or community college will not be included in the fund. Allocations made to participating institutions will be excluded from the funding model established by KRS 164.092.

KSVT Take

KSVT supports this bill as it works to create stronger cybersecurity in Kentucky and provides the framework for participating post-secondary institutions to receive funding for implementation.

Read the Bill

House Bill 381: AN ACT relating to local school board student representatives.

Status

Introduced in House to Committee on Committees

Bill Summary

House Bill 381 will require all local school boards to include a student representative. The student member will attend and participate in school board meetings to provide a student perspective and learn about school governance. A student delegate shall be a junior or senior public school student who has passed the  KRS 158.141 civics test and serves a one-year term. Each school board must adopt a policy to implement the student member, highlighting the selection process, eligibility requirements, and terms of service. Provisions must include a selection process that implements the vote of high school students. An attendance policy that excuses the student from missing a maximum of two meetings, allowance of teleconferencing. The member shall be non-voting and not participate in executive or closed board meetings sessions, however, shall be granted full participation in meetings the same as their fellow members.

KSVT Take

KSVT is in strong support of this bill as it amplifies student voices state wide.

Read the Bill

Senate Bill 98: AN ACT relating to the Kentucky Board of Education

Status

Introduced to Senate Education Committee

Bill Summary

SB 98 amends KRS 156.029. The bill would allow the Kentucky Board Of Education's Student Member to have a vote. The bill also requires that the board adds an at-large member and that two existing members must have children enrolled in public school. SB 98 also amends KRS 156.040 by removing any age and college degree requirements for the student board member.

KSVT Take

KSVT supports SB 98, as it amplifies student voices in the state by allowing the board's student members to have a vote.

Read the Bill

Senate Bill 8: AN ACT relating to the Kentucky Board of Education

Status

Introduced to State & Local Government

Bill Summary

SB 8 would amend KRS 156.029 so all 14 members of the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) are elected. A  new section of KRS Chapter 156 would detail the process for members to be elected, including a partisan and nonpartisan regular election. An additional section would set forth the process for the removal of a member of KBE. KRS 156.040 would be amended to require that members of the (KBE) not have served on a local school board for a minimum of 4 years before the year of their election. It would establish a schedule for transitioning from appointed to elected members. Appointees would continue to serve by their appointments until December 31, 2026; EFFECTIVE January 1, 2026.

KSVT Take

KSVT does not support this bill due its partisan intent.

Read the Bill

Senate Bill 93: AN ACT relating to education

Status

Introduced to Education Committee

Bill Summary

This bill aims to prohibit local school districts and public charter schools from indirectly or directly requiring, promoting, or using any programs that aim to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. This bill has the intention of preventing the creation or continuance of exclusion on the basis of discrimination within school environments. This bill also proposes the removal of diversity and race bias teachings from school resource officers required curriculum.

KSVT Take

KSVT is not in support of this bill. We believe that keeping diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging teachings in schools is vital to keeping Kenutcky’s K-12 education inclusive to all students. This bill will pose a great danger to Kentucky’s minority students and will further the divisive culture within our school systems.

Read the Bill

House Bill 148: AN ACT relating to menstrual discharge collection devices and making an appropriation therefor

Status

Introduced in House to to Committee on Committees

Bill Summary

HB 148 asks that all public schools or public charter schools with grades 6-12 have an age-appropriate menstrual discharge collection device in each school building and at least 50% of all female, handicapped, unisex, or family bathrooms. The bill also states that each local board of education or public charter school board of directors must establish procedures to distribute menstrual products for student use while prohibiting resale, redistribution, and misuse of products.

KSVT Take

KSVT is in support of this bill as it aims to provide needed menstural products and supports to student. However, SB 38, a similar bill, seeks to provide menstrual products for students grade 4-12, a wider variety.

Read the Bill

House Bill 162: AN ACT relating to mathematics education

Status

Posted for Passage in the Regular Orders

Bill Summary

HB 162 would amend sections of KRS Chapter 158 to include math instruction in addition to reading and writing instruction as areas essential for schools to provide comprehensive instruction. The bill mandates schools provide robust support for students to engage with math at a proficient level at the elementary, middle, and high school levels and adds "mathematical skills" to the list of skills the Department of Education must work with schools to ensure students receive robust education in. The bill also mandates that students receive additional or accelerated help in math if needed through a "multi-tiered system of support" at the school, district, and state levels.

KSVT Take

KSVT is in support of this bill as it advocates for a better student learning experience and individualized instruction. This bill would be a step in the right direction for ensuring each Kentucky student receives the quality education they are entitled to.

Read the Bill

House Bill 36: AN ACT relating to student resiliency and well-being

Status

Introduced in House to Committee on Committees

Bill Summary

This bill will establish the Center for Student Resiliency and Well-Being within the Kentucky Department of Education. The Center will collect data and trend changes, coordinate school staff training, and monitor the numbers and types of mental health professionals in schools. It will  amend KRS 158.4416 to include the definition of "student resiliency and well-being approach." Amend KRS 158.191 to require a school district to allow a parent to decline their student's participation in well-being questionnaires rather than requiring parental consent for the student to participate. Amend KRS 156.095 to require schools to provide an opportunity for any student who missed the suicide prevention awareness lesson to receive the lesson at a later time.

KSVT Take

KSVT supports this bill due to its efforts of promoting student well-being through establishing a facility within the Kentucky Department of Education. Mental health impacts many students and the bill can help address and highlight its importance.

Read the Bill

Senate Bill 52: AN ACT relating to technology in education and declaring an emergency

Status

To Senate Education Committee

Bill Summary

This bill will upgrade technology by using Artificial Intelligence as part of curriculum and instruction in Kentucky classrooms. By July 1, 2024, the Kentucky Department of Education, with input from The Council of Technology, will make guidelines on incorporating AI in school administration, instruction, classroom management, and curriculum. Guidelines will also specify how school and local boards should create policies around the use of AI. These will be updated and revised as needed every six months. There will be four different 1-hour trainings, the 4th training for local board and school council members. This meeting will specifically speak on the usage of AI and also the dangers of it. Each certified school employee must complete one of the three annual trainings starting for the 2024-25 school year. Training will receive funds through local/state budgets for public schools. Each year on June 30th, districts will be required to give a report on how much effort was put into AI utilization, any purchases for AI, and efforts relating to AI in teaching. This report will come from public and nonpublic schools.

KSVT Take

KSVT is in support of adopting AI and providing the best curriculum for students. However, SB 52 is experimental in nature, and districts must decide what is best for them.

Read the Bill

Senate Bill 38: AN ACT relating to providing free feminine hygiene products for elementary and secondary students

Status

Introduced to Appropriations and Revenue

Bill Summary

This bill will make a new section of KRS Chapter 128. It will require each public school with grades 4+ to provide free female hygiene products. These products include, but are not limited to tampons, sanitary napkins, and menstrual sponges/cups for students. Local boards of Education will be in charge of making policies and distributing free feminine hygiene products.

KSVT Take

KSVT stands with this bill as it will help out a tremendous amount of students by providing basic essential products.

Read the Bill

House Bill 158: AN ACT relating to dyslexia.

Status

Introduced in House to Committee on Committees

Bill Summary

HB 158 is an act amending KRS 158.307 and KRS 164.304. Amendments made to KRS 158.307 include requiring rather than allowing local boards of education to develop policy on dyslexia and the approach to include the definition and traits of dyslexia. The bill requires the implementation of processes that identify students presenting characteristics of dyslexia, for utilizing tools to identify such students, and methods evaluating such tools. The approach must also include an outreach plan to aid parents and an identification process to locate evidence-based intervention methods with progress monitoring involved. Amendments to KRS 164.304 include requiring postsecondary institutions that offer teacher preparation programs to include dyslexia instruction by the 2025-26 school year without exception to funding availability.

KSVT Take

KSVT is in support of HB 158 as it provides support for students who demonstrate characteristics of dyslexia.

Read the Bill

a few things we're proud of

Some of our legislative wins

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Powerball promise

Made Kentucky colleges more affordable for 8,000 low-income students by keeping money from the Kentucky Lottery allocated toward education equity.

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Save our seats campaign

Passed legislation (HB 178) that secured permanent student representation on the Kentucky Board of Education with bipartisan support.

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mental health campaign

Passed legislation (HB 44) that established excused absences for mental health days for students. 

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teach truth rally

Successfully blocked legislation (HB 14 and HB 18) that would have prohibited teaching accurate American history through a Critical Race Theory (CRT) lens.

Get Involved

How you can advocate for education equity

  • Testify to Your Local School Board

    Education policy gets made at many levels, even at your local school! If you have an idea for a new policy at your school, get in touch with your principal or a member of the school’s Site-Based Decision Making Council (SBDM).

    If you want to take it one step further, you can testify in front of your local school board about changes you want to see in your school district. Luckily, Student Voice has compiled a comprehensive guide of everything you need to know to research, write and present a testimony.

    Read more about the roles and responsibilities of local School Boards and Site-Based Decisions Making Councils or check out this guide about the different governing bodies in our school system.

  • Connect to Advocacy in Frankfort

    If you want to address an issue at the state level, you can call or email your state representative or senator, or contact a member of the Kentucky Board of Education about statewide policies and new legislation ideas. Find your Legislator here.

    Since 2019, there has been a student representative serving on the Kentucky Board of Education. Get in touch with them here, or reach out to the Commissioner’s Student Advisory Council.

  • Follow New Legislative Proposals

    One of the most important parts of getting involved is keeping track of what’s happening! The Louisville Courier Journal and the Lexington Herald Leader are both great reading resources that cover local and statewide educational policy.