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These Education-Related Bills Failed To Make The Grade This Session

Photo by J. Tyler Franklin

For as many education bills that Kentucky lawmakers passed in the 2019 legislative session, many other proposed measures failed.

Whether some of these bills fell flat primarily due to strong opposition from this year’s especially vocal educators or from a lack of unified support from the General Assembly’s Republican majorityis still up for debate.

Here are some of the 2019 legislative proposals related to education that stalled out, got stuck in committee or were dead on arrival:

Opposed By Teacher Protesters

House Bill 205, Scholarship Tax Credits

House Bill 205 was one of the most talked-about bills of this legislative session. Educators who came to the Capitol often cited this bill first as their motivation for protesting. The bill would have created a nearly dollar-for-dollar tax credit for donations made to nonprofits that grant scholarships for low-income students to attend private schools.

School choice advocates say similar tax credits in other states have grown the number and capacity of those scholarship programs exponentially, giving more students access to private schools that may better fit their needs. Critics say the credit’s price tag — with an estimated  fiscal impact of more than $20 million in the first year of implementation, and likely to grow — would cost state revenue, and ultimately public schools, more than Kentucky can afford.

House Bill 525, Reorganization of Teacher Pension Board

House Bill 525 was an attempt to reorganize the structure of the board that manages teacher pensions. It proposed to change the number of seats on the board and to revise the nomination process for membership. The changes to the nomination process would give the Kentucky Education Association fewer seats to fill, while bringing other groups that represent educators to the table. The bill also proposed adding to the board one member with financial experience, appointed by the governor. The original version of the bill suggested adding two members with financial experience, one nominated by the Kentucky Society of Certified Public Accountants, and another nominated by the Kentucky Bankers Association.

Teacher opposition to the bill incited the teachers at 10 districts to stage a sickout to protest this bill in committee. Many educators believed the bill would diminish their voice on the pension board. Legislators who spoke in favor of the bill said that adding members with financial experience would strengthen the security of teacher pensions.

Passed In One Chamber, But Not The Other

Senate Bill 3, School Council Reform

Senate Bill 3 proposed measures to oversee the activity of school-based decision making councils. School councils historically have been composed of a ratio of two parents, three teachers and a principal who set school policies in accordance with district policies. This bill would lower the minimum number of teachers on the board to two, allow school boards to require the councils to give an annual report of their activities and change the school council’s role in hiring principals to give the ultimate authority of principal selection to superintendents. (A bill that gives that ultimate hiring authority to the JCPS superintendent did pass.)

House Bill 272, Third Grade Retention Reform

House Bill 272 would have made significant reforms to the process by which schools assess students in math and literacy. It would also require that school districts provide enrichment summer camps for third graders who are found to be not proficient in those subjects and for schools to retain third graders who do not meet minimum requirements for proficiency based on testing.

Education Bills Filed That Never Went To A Floor Vote*

  • House Bill 14: to repeal the law establishing charter schools in Kentucky
  • House Bill 112: to require that schools provide full day kindergarten
  • House Bill 185: to require the Kentucky Department of Education to regulate sex education standards for grades 4 through 12
  • House Bill 202: to prohibit corporal punishment in schools
  • House Bill 331: to allow parents to opt students out of standardized tests
  • House Bill 377: to require visual and performing arts education in schools
  • House Bill 403: to allow home-school students to participate in public school extracurriculars
  • House Bill 405: to establish a racial trauma training program for public school employees
  • Senate Bill 68: to establish and require curriculum on child abuse and child sexual abuse
  • Senate Bill 242: to allow for physical education curriculum to include hunting, fishing and trapping

Anticipated, But Never Filed

No legislators filed a bill to to create a funding mechanism for charter schools, but that issue is expected to surface during the 2020 budget session.

*This is not a comprehensive list.

Liz Schlemmer is WFPL's Education and Learning Reporter.

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