Senate Bill 1, a title reserved for the bill of the highest priority, passed the Kentucky Senate in a rare Saturday session, just 5 days into this year’s 60-day General Assembly. It is a heinous bill that undoes key components of KERA and puts the final nail in the SBDM coffins. The archived file is not yet available on KET, but if you would like to hear the discussion before then, you can listen to it here.
On Tuesday, January 4, Kentucky General Assembly began their 60-day session, in the midst of a raging pandemic. Despite the Omicron variant driving our state to new record numbers of cases and one in three who take the COVID tests testing positive, on Wednesday, January 5, I masked up and drove to Frankfort to meet with lawmakers and share some of our concerns about several racist bills.
While there, I also inquired about the opportunity to testify against Senate Bill 1, which had been assigned to the Senate Education Committee. SB1 focused on two things, and two things only. Taking principal and curriculum selection authority away from local, site-based decision making councils (SBDMs). By weakening SBDMs, they take away some of our key arguments about why HB14 and HB18 are unnecessary. The dismantling local decision-making ability, of course, has been a driving factor behind this bill for six or seven years. And our continued pushback is a key reason it has not passed. Until now, during a time when our democracy is facing the greatest threat of our nation’s history, and our ability to address injustices and be heard is the lowest it’s been during most, if not all, of our lifetimes.
By Thursday, January 6, #SB1 had already had two readings on the Senate Floor and was poised for passage. As a looming snowstorm threatened school closures and driving conditions, adding insult to injury when it comes to the limited access we’ve had to our halls of freedom since the pandemic set in nearly two years ago. After encountering several vehicles that had spun out on the ice and snow, experiencing added delays and dangerous conditions, I called again to make sure I was on the list to speak, so I could focus on driving safely and arriving alive. I arrived moments after they collected the sign-in sheet, so they almost didn’t let me speak. But after some interventions by one of the Senators sitting near me who overheard the kerfuffle and advocated for me, they kindly did. Here is my testimony.