One Of Kentucky’s Anti Critical Race Theory Bills Might Be Heard In Committee Tomorrow. Here’s What’s In It

Feb 16, 2022 at 5:07 pm
The Kentucky Capitol is filled with clowns.
The Kentucky Capitol is filled with clowns.

The Kentucky General Assembly is really committed to squashing critical race theory in classrooms. 

Out of four anti-CRT bills that have been introduced, one is actually supposed to get a hearing before a legislative committee on Thursday.

The legislation is Senate Bill 138, which was introduced earlier this month by the Senate Education Committee’s chair, Republican Max Wise. This one has picked up criticism for its more targeted list of what should and shouldn’t be taught in classrooms. 

Required: Ronald Reagan’s “A Time Of Choosing” speech.

Banned: Teachers being required to teach about current events or controversial topics related to public policy.

Kentucky teachers have responded to the bill with concerns about being stifled in the classroom.

“It is clear from the bills that continue to be introduced that the Republican-led legislature is intent on limiting discourse about the realities of our history,” wrote the teacher’s union KY 120 United in a statement. “We do not have to wonder whose reality counts when we see this kind of legislation. They are bent on protecting their whitewashed version of history instead of making sure a history that includes the realities of ALL Kentucky students is learned.”

Here’s what else is in the bill:

Required concepts

Under SB 138, public schools and charter schools would have to provide instruction and instructional materials covering certain concepts, including:

  • “The understanding that the institution of slavery and post-Civil War laws enforcing racial segregation and discrimination were contrary” to American values, “but that defining racial disparities solely on the legacy of this institution is destructive to the unification of our nation.”
  • “Personal agency and the understanding that, regardless of race, sex, or socioeconomic status, an American has the power to succeed when he or she is given sufficient opportunity and is committed to seizing that opportunity through hard work, pursuit of education, and good citizenship.”
The bill clarifies that none of these required concepts should be construed as restricting publicly funded schools from the impartial instruction of controversial aspects of history or the historical oppression of particular groups of people. 

Required speeches and documents

Wise’s bill would require public high schools and middle schools to include specific documents and speeches from the history of the United States in their curricula. 

Those include a lot of important, early-U.S. docs such as the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence. Required materials would also cover the history of slavery and civil rights, including Frederick Douglass’ “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” speech and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

The bill also elevates Reagan’s small-government treatise “A Time Of Choosing” speech to the same stature as these key pieces of U.S. history, making it required teaching.

Restrictions for educators

SB 138 says that public school educators could not be compelled to discuss current events or controversial topics related to public policy or social affairs with students. If educators did provide instruction on current events or controversial topics, they couldn’t do so while giving deference to any one perspective. Instead, they would be required to explore such topics from “diverse or contending perspectives.”

Teachers could also no longer require students to personally lobby for legislation for credit. (Think writing letters to lawmakers.)

Finally, employees could not be required to engage in training orientation or therapy that “presents any form of race or sex stereotyping or blame on the basis of race or sex.”

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