March 15, 2021

Statement on Monday's HB 178 Vote

The day after this statement was released, a version of HB 178 that protects student and teacher representation was passed by the Senate after a conference committee. Read our statement from Wednesday.

The Kentucky Student Voice Team is devastated to learn that the state Senate failed to pass Senate Floor Amendment 1 on HB 178, which would preserve the non-voting student and teacher members of the Kentucky Board of Education.

This decision sets an example for education decision-making bodies across the state--bodies where student presence ought to be not only normalized but expected. Removing the student and teacher members rejects the basic fact that students are the primary stakeholders of our education system. It rejects the fact that students are, and have always been, more than capable of independent, developed thought processes. It rejects the fact that students, from the civil rights movement of the 60’s to the climate strikes of today, have always been at the forefront of policy change and transformation.

This vote is about more than the Kentucky Board of Education and its members. It is about the ability of young people to lead in their communities. It is about the lived experience that only students can bring to the table. Students lost a seat on the state Board of Education, but the Kentucky Board of Education also lost the immeasurable insight of a student member.

Our team organized the #SaveOurSeats campaign immediately upon learning about the changes in the Senate version of HB 178. We put out a statement, built a webpage, created a sign-on form, and launched a comprehensive communications and outreach campaign. In three days, we received support from nearly 300 Kentuckians in 50 counties--teachers, students, and community leaders. We joined in coalition with student and adult organizations across the Commonwealth. This alone is evidence of the high capacity of young people to lead in education and beyond.

Although the Senate ultimately rejected Senate Floor Amendment 1, the advocacy of the Kentucky Student Voice Team is far from over. We will keep pushing for student and educator voice through grassroots campaigns, legislative lobbying, and district-level action. We will ensure that our schools cultivate democracy and work towards a more just Commonwealth, one where the voices of those most impacted by education policies are driving all decision-making.

The Kentucky Student Voice Team is an independent, youth-led, statewide organization that supports students as research, policy, and advocacy partners to ensure Kentucky’s education system is as equitable, just, and as excellent as it can be.