HALL MONITOR: “NO” on social emotional learning in Kentucky Schools (HB 88)

Name: Kentucky House Bill 88

Summary: Provides funds for social emotional learning in Kentucky schools

Status: In House Appropriations and Revenue Committee as of February 2023

Sponsors: Representatives Derrick Graham and Cherlynn Stevenson

Bill Breakdown:

Section 5 of this bill would designate $6,215,000 from the state’s general funds to the state department of education “to address social emotional learning and mental health” during the 2023-2024 fiscal year. 

Why does PDE Action oppose this bill? 

The covid pandemic took a huge toll on students’ academic performance and mental health. It is vital to support students through counseling and other mental health services. 

Unfortunately, bad actors have used benign-sounding social-emotional learning practices to push divisive race and gender ideology on students. Further, districts across the country have inked costly contracts with organizations like the Collaborative for Academic Social Emotional Learning to provide surveys to students—which oftentimes are given without parental notification or consent. 

Time in school is a zero-sum game, and any time spent on social-emotional learning—which has very little data or scientific evidence to support its efficacy—is time that is not spent on reading, writing, and math. Parents should be in the driver’s seat regarding decisions about their child’s mental health and wellbeing. 

House Bill 88 provides no guardrails for what types of social-emotional learning may be taught in Kentucky schools. This bill should ensure that earmarked funds for social-emotional learning will not be used to peddle divisive ideas to children under the guise of supporting mental health. Further, it should ensure that parents will be notified of, and have the opportunity to opt their children out of, social emotional learning surveys or related programming.  

Read more about social-emotional learning here.