Beshear signs bills supporting teacher education and pathways

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FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear ceremonially signed six bills Tuesday expanding access to education in Kentucky.

According to a statement from Beshear’s office, the bills add post-secondary pathways for high school students at alternative schools, address teacher shortages, support early literacy, support due process for college students, speed up the process for school district construction projects and expand Kentucky Children’s Access to Books.

“My administration will always prioritize education. If we are to continue to attract world-class businesses, we must provide a world-class public education system,” Beshear said. “As governor and as a father who wants all of our children to succeed, my goal is to ensure that every child in Kentucky has access to a quality education that will prepare them for a bright future.”

First, Beshear signed House Bill 194, which expands options for high school students at alternative schools to earn a high school diploma. The statement further indicates that approximately 24,000 Kentucky students are enrolled in alternative education programs. Many of these students tend to drop out if they don’t have enough credits to graduate on time, the governor’s office said.

HB 194 allows these students to take the GED exam and earn a high school equivalency diploma. This opportunity helps high school students in alternative schools find a path forward, such as post-secondary education, learning a trade, or enlisting in the military.

Another signed bill, House Bill 277, helps address the teacher shortage by creating more pathways to teacher certification.

The release says the bill creates a new accelerated alternative certification path, called Option 9, using a residency program. This new path will be an option for applicants who have not completed a bachelor’s degree and will need to be approved by the Professional Standards Board in Education.

HB 277 also allows any teacher who receives an emergency teaching certification in the 2021-2022 school year to be eligible to renew that certification in the following school year.

Additionally, Beshear signed Senate Bill 9, also known as the “Read to Succeed Act,” which focuses on improving early literacy. Beshear’s office said the bill improves and expands diagnostic assessment, creating a reliable and universal reading screening tool to better notice if a student is falling behind in their reading development.

Additionally, SB 9 develops student interventions and supports, as well as family engagement, including home-learning strategies.

The Governor also signed the Read to Succeed Act, which enhances teacher training and development by ensuring teachers are trained in how to correctly interpret reading diagnostic results and how to use these results to design instruction and intervention plans for the student. get them back on track.

After SB 9, Beshear signed House Bill 290, also known as the Kentucky Campus Due Process Protection Act. The legislation serves as a comprehensive protection of student rights at Kentucky universities.

HB 290 will ensure that students facing potentially life-changing sanctions, such as expulsion, or students who find themselves in situations where they must navigate their university’s legal system, such as assault or harassment involving another student, enjoy procedural protections such as the right to engage legal representation, the right to present and cross-examine witnesses, and the right to access all evidence in the possession of the student. institution, according to the press release.

Next, House Bill 678 establishes a two-year pilot project that allows school districts to begin construction projects without the necessary state-level approval, except for initial approval of initial project documents. .

The bill also requires the Kentucky Department of Education to review current administrative facility and building regulations to identify and improve inefficiencies. HB 678 will make it easier for school districts to build facilities, such as gymnasiums and classrooms, to provide a safe and strong learning environment for students.

Finally, Beshear signed Senate Bill 164 into law. This legislation establishes the “Kentucky Imagination Library Program”, which will expand access to children’s books across the Commonwealth. As part of the program, each month each registered child from birth to age 5 will receive a book at no cost to the family.

SB 164 establishes the Imagination Library of Kentucky Program Trust Fund, which includes appropriations from general state funds, donations and grants from public and private sources, and federal funds. The bill also expands the Imagination Library to all 120 counties in Kentucky.

According to Beshear’s office, this will improve children’s literacy rates in Kentucky and close the gaps in educational achievement.

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