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Critical Race Theory Bill was again taken up in Kentucky with opposition

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Posted at 6:55 PM, Feb 17, 2022

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — After months of discussion and protests, a bill addressing critical race theory in K-12 schools is one step closer to becoming law in Kentucky.

Senate Bill 138 passed through the committee on Thursday. However, even though this bill is a little different, opponents are continuing to be loud about why it shouldn't be introduced at all.

Louisville student Timothy King traveled to Frankfort with his family to let lawmakers know he doesn't want any mention of critical race theory taught in his classroom.

"I just want to know the truth. You know, I don't want sugarcoated facts. I don't want opinions," said King.

That's because King says he's been in a class where he was taught that he would have a different life experience because of his race.

"They're saying that Black people aren't able to achieve certain things like white people and to me, that was an insult to me," said King.

He told lawmakers on Thursday he's in support of the bill by Senator Max Wise, (R- Campbellsville) to change the way race and history are taught in schools.

"Let's teach it in a fair manner. If it's controversial, teach it from every side looking at the issue," said Wise.

The bill would mandate these 24 documents and speeches be taught as a part of Kentucky's curriculum for middle and high school students:

  1. The Mayflower Compact;
  2. The Declaration of Independence;
  3. The Constitution of the United States;
  4. The Federalist No. 1 (Alexander Hamilton);
  5. The Federalist Nos. 10 and 51 (James Madison);
  6. The June 8, 1789, speech on amendments to the Constitution of the United
  7. States by James Madison;
  8. The first ten (10) amendments to the Constitution of the United States, also known as the Bill of Rights;
  9. The 1796 Farewell Address by George Washington;
  10. The United States Supreme Court opinion in Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1803);
  11. The Monroe Doctrine by James Monroe;
  12. What to the Slave is the Fourth of July? speech by Frederick Douglass;
  13. The United States Supreme Court opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857);
  14. Final Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln;
  15. 14. The Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln;
  16. 15. Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States by Susan B.
  17. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton;
  18. The September 18, 1895, Atlanta Exposition Address by Booker T. Washington;
  19. Of Booker T. Washington and Others by W.E.B. Du Bois;
  20. The United States Supreme Court opinion in Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896);
  21. The August 31, 1910, New Nationalism speech by Theodore Roosevelt;
  22. The January 11, 1944, State of the Union Address by Franklin D. 19 Roosevelt;
  23. The United States Supreme Court opinions in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954) and Brown v. Board of Education of topeka, 349 U.S. 294 (1955);
  24. Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr.;
  25. The August 28, 1963, I Have a Dream speech by Martin Luther King, Jr.;
  26. A Time for Choosing by Ronald Reagan.

The bill would also prohibit discussion about current events unless it's non-discriminatory and age-appropriate. It would prohibit incentivizing a student to advocate on behalf of a perspective with which the student or the parent or guardian of a minor student does not agree. It would require teaching that people can succeed "regardless of one's circumstances." It would also prohibit school districts from requiring staff training that "coerces the employee to stereotype any group."

Wise says he's been unfairly accused of being a "a racist" and "a fascist for the bill he says just aims to create a balanced currulum for how race is discussed in schools.

"Let's talk about where we are today as a country not being divisive. Let's try to find ways that we can unify," said Wise.

This isn't the first time a bill addressing critical race theory has been introduced in the Kentucky legislature. SB 138 is the fourth bill. Even with the amendments and the changes, opposers are still saying it is whitewashing history.

"It sounds like you just want to talk about a little bit of history in some areas but what about the history that this country was raised on the backs of slaves. What about the history of systemic discrimination is going on right now that's real-time," said Dr. Renee Sartin, Associate Professor at Campbellsville University.

"And you're also saying that you don't want us to talk about current time and if I come in the classroom and talk about that you're going to shut me down? That's not right these kids need to know about the history," Sartin continued.

Senator Reggie Thomas, (D- Lexington) agreed.

"There's no race discrimination in the bill, but it does seek to whitewash history and avoid the difficult discussions about slavery and the oppression of slavery," said Thomas.

It's important to note that critical race theory is not a part of Kentucky's K-12 curriculum.

However, this is still an ongoing conversation both sides don't appear to be giving an inch on.

"To say that we cannot teach history in an unaltered state is to whitewash so that others feel comfortable," said opponent Kierahn Johnson. "It's for making people who have perhaps contributed to the past, feel comfortable and those who have been the victims to feel bad."

Lawmakers say the bill will be up for a full Senate vote in the coming days or weeks.