I want to update you on a few more bills that were signed into law by the governor and will take effect on July 15. They may not get the big headlines, but they will be important to thousands, maybe millions of Kentuckians.
House Bill 160, which I was proud to co-sponsor, will make it easier for our community and technical college students transfer their credits to our four-year universities and continue toward their bachelor’s degree. Currently, a basic business course at Hazard Community & Technical College may be counted one way if a student transfers to Eastern, and another away if they transfer to Morehead State. With students taking first-year coursework without knowing for sure where they want to continue their education, it’s unfair to our young people.
HB 160 directs the state’s Council on Postsecondary Education to work with all our two-year and four-year schools to create a plan where a three-hour course counts the same across the state, no matter where the course is taken. That would include making sure courses are numbered the same at all our community and technical colleges, too, making it easier to transfer between schools when a student moves.
The goal of HB 160 is that when students transfer to a four-year university, they’ll stay on track toward their degree, not waste credit. That’s time and money they don’t have, and Kentucky can’t afford to waste their talent. UK has already partnered with Bluegrass Community & Technical College, and I hope the entire system can build from that.
Another education-oriented piece of legislation, Senate Bill 163, is aimed at middle schoolers and high schoolers who can read, but not on grade level. We’ve seen great success with our early literacy programs that target elementary school students struggling to read. The problem is that once these students learn to read, we have nothing in place to keep them going. There’s a huge difference between being able to read a children’s book and being able to read and comprehend the daily newspaper. Solid reading skills help in other classes, too – if you can’t understand the bigger words in your science textbook, it’s much harder to learn science. We want our students engaged with the world around them, not just sitting there.
SB 163 makes sure that middle school and high school teachers have the professional development and the tools they need to identify student having trouble reading at grade level, and helps them get those students to where they need to be. I’m excited at the potential this has for all our students.
I’ll update you on more bills next week, but I want to make sure you know how much good we accomplished during our limited time in Frankfort. You can always contact me through our Legislative Message Line at 1-800-372-7181, or call my office directly at 502-564-8100, ext. 818.