House bill which calls for an essential skills curriculum for students passed by education committee

02/28/2017 12:58 PM

FRANKFORT – A bill which would require, beginning with the 2017-2018 school year, a local school district to provide an essential skills curriculum to students, and require each student attain essential skills to graduate was overwhelmingly passed by the House Committee on Education on Tuesday.

House Bill 454, sponsored by House Majority Floor Leader Rep. Jonathan Shell, R-Lancaster, passed by a 15-1 vote with Rep. Attica Scott, D-Louisville casting the lone no vote and Rep. Reginald Meeks, D-Louisville, passing.

The legislation, if it becomes law, would also call for the Kentucky Department of Education to develop an age-appropriate drug awareness and prevention program, and require local school boards to ensure that students receive annual instruction in drug awareness and prevention.

Shell said that better “soft skills” for students will go a long way towards those students being successful once they graduate from state schools.

“I was very frustrated that as we moved through education and society, that we were graduating students, not through the fault of the schools, not through the fault of the teachers or the administrators, we’re graduating students that don’t have the soft skills, or the essential skills to go into the work force and actually compete for those jobs and to do it right,” Shell said.

Students would have to complete three of nine essential skill markers as identified by the Kentucky Department of Education.

“Those include anything from attendance to drug testing, to knowledge of the skills that you have, initiative, diligence, works well with others,” Shell said.

The bill has the backing on many business organizations including the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

Ashli Watts of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce told committee members that the concern that they have is workforce and the lack of essential skills.

“Each year, we survey our membership, and I know local chambers across the state survey their membership, and this is the top concern that every chamber across the state has,” Watts said. “So we think House Bill 454 will be essential to put essential skills into our education system as the best possible way to ensure that this could help be corrected.”

HB454 moves to the full house for consideration.

The meeting room was packed with teachers expecting the charter schools bill to come before the committee, which it did not. The next House Committee on Education meeting will be Thursday.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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