It is a busy time of year for Kentucky families as students get back into the routine of school, and many after-school activities get into full swing. With each new school year comes new opportunities, chances to achieve higher levels of learning and the potential for new and great experiences. I wish all students, teachers, school staff and parents a wonderful year!
All who touch the school system have experienced challenges over the last few years. From COVID-19 disruption to natural disasters in both eastern and western Kentucky, to our concerns and prioritization of school safety, our school staff and families have had a lot to contend with. While not easy, time and effort is worth it to set our students up to have a successful year ahead of them.
Your legislators are eager to see the many successes the upcoming school year has in store. Over half of state revenues were dedicated to public education in the recently enacted budget. Lawmakers dedicated over $500 million additional dollars to schools, many of which have chosen to maximize that financial flexibility and provide raises for school personnel.
We passed and enacted legislation giving a greater voice to parents, residents, and the community in school governance and curriculum by reforming the role of School-Based Decision-Making (SBDM) Councils through Senate Bill 1. SB 1 enhances accountability by ultimately giving school boards authority over curriculum and the selection of school principals — an authority SBDM councils had. Superintendents, who are hired and fired by the school board, will now make decisions after receiving input from SBDMs in their new advisory role. The SBDM model has existed in Kentucky for over 3 decades and since that time, no other state in the nation has deemed it a worthy model to adopt.
SB 1 also includes the Teaching American Principles Act, which extends existing elementary social studies standards through middle and high school. It encourages a study of United States historical documents and uniting students around our nation’s history, not dividing it. It also preserves classroom discussion of controversial aspects of history and maintains a teacher’s ability to teach current events on controversial subjects. Most importantly, Teaching American Principles supports civic learning in settings that students may encounter in their lives, like the legislative process.
We also reformed reading instruction across the commonwealth through the passage of Senate Bill 9, or the Read to Succeed Act, a bill I was proud to sponsor. SB 9 systematically improves the quality and delivery of reading instruction to K-3 students across the state by implementing supports, interventions and creating a streamlined curriculum-based foundation in phonics, vocabulary, and comprehension. It also requires reading-specific developmental training for all teachers K-3.
On school safety, the Interim Joint Committee recently heard from the state school safety marshal and the Kentucky Center for School Safety about how legislation passed by the General Assembly is taking shape. If you look on the local level at your child’s school, you will see dedicated efforts to ensure our students, teachers and administrators are safe. I encourage you to visit ket.org/legislature/archives to watch that July 15 meeting. You can also visit the KET website and watch a recent edition of ‘Kentucky Tonight’ that featured an hour long conversation on the same. These are both resources containing important information for parents, students and staff.
In closing, I want to thank each and every person who plays a role in ensuring the best possible education for students here in the 27th Senate District. It is a pleasure to get to work with our superintendents and to hear from people in our community. If I can ever be of assistance, please contact my office at 502-564-8100 or the legislative message line 1-800-372-7181. You can also reach me at [email protected].
I wish each student, teacher and parent nothing but the best as you return to the classroom. Have an awesome school year!