John Liu, via Flickr

A Tennessee bill aimes to prohibit textbooks that acknowledge the LGBT community, though the measure is unlikely to pass this spring. 

The measure would eliminate any instructional materials that would “promote, normalize, support, or address lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender issues or lifestyles.” It’s one of several anti-LGBT bills moving through the legislature right now. 

Memphis Democrat Torrey Harris, an openly bisexual lawmaker, argued Wednesday this would erase important pieces of history. 

“This would eliminate me and one other member of this committee from even being mentioned in our textbooks,” said Harris.

Chase Bailey

Kentucky high school seniors are riding out a roller coaster of a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While it's been a mixed bag of losses and gains, Greenwood High School Senior Chase Bailey says it's also been a time of personal growth.

"Even though there were so many times that, you know, I just didn't want to do my homework, and I just wanted to quit and have a little pity party for myself.  I reminded myself that I am not the only one going through this...that there are so many other students who are in the same exact position that I am."

"I have to continue to work hard and finish through this year. is what I kept telling myself."

Liz Schlemmer

Kentucky 120 United, the public education advocacy group that led mass teacher sickouts in 2018 and 2019, is unionizing.

“We seek better. We seek more. We seek our voices to be heard in the halls of Frankfort and our local communities,” KY 120 United co-founder Nema Brewer said Monday from the steps of the state capitol.

It was inside that building that KY 120 United gathered thousands of teachers, school employees, parents and other supporters in 2018 and 2019 to oppose attempts to slash teacher retirement benefits, create charter schools and send would-be tax dollars to private schools. According to Brewer, the group now has 38,000 members.

Creative Commons

Future public school teachers will have less generous retirement benefits, and families in some counties will soon be able to apply for private-school scholarships funded through tax credits after Kentucky state lawmakers overrode Gov. Andy Beshear’s vetoes of two controversial education bills Monday.

Both overrides represent long-sought victories for supporters of pension reform and private schools. Others see them as major blows to public education.

Teachers hired after Jan. 1, 2022, will have a new, less-costly pension plan under House Bill 258. Bill co-sponsor Boone County Republican Rep. Ed Massey said it will save the state $3.57 billion over the next 30 years.

Owensboro Public Schools

The Owensboro Public School system is currently posting three dozen new positions for educators to help students recover from the academic losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The hiring process will start immediately for the 36 new jobs that will begin in the next academic year.


Owensboro Public Schools Superintendent Matthew Constant said the district is getting $6.3 million from the federal Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Funds.


"With these federal dollars that are coming down to the school districts, and the realization that there are academic gaps to shore up across the world, but definitely in our school district, we felt like the best use of those funds could be extra people in our school buildings helping to shore up these gaps,” said Constant.

J. Tyler Franklin

The Republican-led legislature passed a flurry of bills on the last day before Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto period, including more than $200 million in tax breaks, controversial education policies and a measure ensuring Mitch McConnell is replaced by a Republican if he leaves office.

And the legislature continued to weaken Beshear’s powers during the pandemic, passing a measure to fine the governor’s office more than $900,000 if it spends any federal coronavirus relief money without the legislature’s approval.

If Beshear vetoes any of the bills, lawmakers can easily override him when they return for the final two days of session on March 29 and 30.

Creative Commons

Kentucky state lawmakers passed several bills that would bring big changes to K-12 education Tuesday, including a teacher pension reform measure and a controversial tax-credit scholarship program.

Tuesday was the last day of the Kentucky General Assembly’s legislative session before the veto period, and lawmakers passed a flurry of bills before the midnight deadline. This gives them an opportunity to override any vetoes from Gov. Andy Beshear when they return for the last two days of the session at the end of the month.

Liz Schlemmer

A measure to create a tax-credit scholarship program is moving through the Kentucky General Assembly. But bill sponsor Chad McCoy (R-Bardstown) removed the measure’s most controversial feature — he struck K-12 private school tuition from the list of items the scholarships could fund.

“We took out private school tuition,” McCoy told the joint Appropriations and Revenue committee Wednesday afternoon. “And I want to be clear: I personally hate that…But quite frankly enough people complained that this was just a way to fund private schools.”

Funds to help middle and low-income families afford private schools have been at the heart of the proposed Education Opportunity Account program for years. The program is popular with advocates for privatizing public education, and there are versions in at least 17 states.

Jess Clark | WFPL

A Kentucky House bill requiring school districts to offer at least two days a week of in-person learning by March 29 has cleared the state Senate. 

The bill is mostly aimed at Jefferson County Public Schools, which has been fully virtual since last March, when buildings closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Anticipating passage of the bill by both chambers, the Jefferson County Board of Education voted 4-3 last week to begin a phased reopening with a hybrid learning schedule, starting March 17. 

The bill passed 28-8 and now heads back to the House for consideration of a few changes made by the Senate.

Sonja Byrd

Warren County Public Schools and Bowling Green Independent Schools are among many districts in Kentucky welcoming students back to more traditional in-person learning that begins this week.

But even with the extensive planning to keep students, teachers, and staff "Safe at School" for the increased in-person classes, Motber Nature has her own ideas and impacted schedules for some school districts.

Plans for this week’s in-person return to Warren County schools have been curtailed due to recent flooding. Professional development sessions were already scheduled for later this week. 

As school districts bring students back into the buildings, families continue to wrestle with concerns about COVID-19, as well as their children’s academic progress and social connections.  

Owensboro Public Schools FB

The Owensboro and Daviess County school boards will meet Thursday afternoon to consider the districts' plans to return to a five-day schedule of in-person classes.

Both school systems plan to welcome students back full-time on March 22. 

In a joint news conference on Wednesday, the districts said a decrease in COVID-19 cases and an increasing supply of the vaccine make reopening possible. 

Daviess County Superintendent Matt Robbins said it’s important for teachers and staff to see students in-person for the remaining nine weeks of the school year.

“We know they need us, and frankly, we need them, Robbins said. "There’s a lot of needs of our children from academic to mental health, social, emotional, anxiety issues. We need to see them so we can begin to diagnose those needs.”

Facebook/Bowling Green Independent Schools

Kentucky House lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday that would require school districts to offer all students at least two days of in-person learning a week, beginning March 29. The measure’s passage adds to mounting state-level pressure on Jefferson County Public Schools to bring students back to the classroom. 

There are just six Kentucky school districts that have not yet brought students back to the classroom, most notably JCPS, the state’s largest district. The Jefferson County Board of Education will vote Thursday on whether to move forward on a plan to bring students back after staff are fully vaccinated.

Ana Studer

Educators across Kentucky, and the nation, are finding that the pandemic has caused a loss of academic progress, as students struggle with a roller coaster of schedules and remote learning.

Another major loss is the limitation, or suspension, of extracurricular activities.

The return of in-person learning in many Kentucky school districts may begin to make up for some of the gaps in social connection and academic progress. 

Teachers and students across Kentucky continue the monumental struggle to adapt to COVID-19 safety precautions.

But despite all the best intentions, the pandemic has blasted a hole in the social and academic structure of education. 

Ryland Barton

A bill banning governors from reorganizing the Kentucky Board of Education passed out of a legislative committee on Tuesday morning.

House Bill 178 comes more than a year after Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear replaced the entire board of education as one of his first acts in office.

The measure would also require the racial, political party and gender makeup of the board to be proportional to the state’s representation.

Rep. Steve Sheldon, a Republican from Bowling Green, said the bill would prevent Kentucky Board of Education members from being treated like “political pawns.”

Creative Commons

The Kentucky Department of Education is preparing to administer state assessments this spring, despite disruptions in learning brought on by COVID-19. The tests are expected to reveal the impact of the pandemic on student achievement.

The U.S. Department of Education, so far, has not granted waivers on statewide testing as it did for the 2019-2020 school year. In a Sept. 3 letter to Chief State School Officers, then-Education Secretary Betsy DeVos wrote that states should not anticipate such waivers this academic year.

Kentucky administers tests in reading and mathematics in grades 3-8 and 10; in science at grades 4, 7 and 11; and in social studies and writing at grades 5, 8 and 11. 

In addition, students in 11th grade take a state administration of the ACT.