Teaching Principles, ending emergency bills pass

Senate has politically charged day, Beshear appointments also rejected

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – In one of the most politically charged days since the Legislature convened, the state Senate approved Thursday two controversial measures spotlighted by Republicans. And Senators rejected two of Governor Beshear’s appointments to two high-profile boards.

By identical 28-8 votes, the Senate approved the Teach America’s Principles Act sponsored by Sen. Max Wise, a Campbellsville Republican. The measure sets guidelines for how social studies and civics are taught in the state’s schools. Opponents called it a classroom censorship bill.

It extends the existing elementary social studies standard to both middle and high school. The bill focuses on raising standards by encouraging a study of United States historical documents and uniting students around the nation’s history. Butr it also sets penalties for violations and ways for parents to object beyond what already exists.

“Considering what we have witnessed unfolding in school board meetings across our nation, I felt it crucial to address the United States history curriculum issue during this year’s legislative session,” Wise said. “What I found to be vital though, was that we approach this topic from a stance of unity and positivity, and not by telling teachers what they can’t teach.”

Instructing students would include using core historical documents and speeches. Wise said SB 138 preserves classroom discussion of controversial aspects of history and the historical oppression of a particular group of people. It also maintains a teacher’s ability to teach current events on controversial subjects and help students draw their own conclusions. It also supports civic learning in settings that students may encounter in their lives, such as the legislative process. It does not circumvent the established standards adoption process or diminish employee professional growth and development, nor does it inhibit frank conversations about injustices done, he claimed in response to objections and questions about the bill which has undergone at least two round of changes since it was first introduced a month ago.

SB 138 sets the parameters for but does not diminish professional development training, allowing teachers to choose whether to engage in diversity-based training programs. It prohibits homework assignments, projects or extra credit on political, social-policy or lobbying activities for which a student or their family objects. That said, the bill does not prevent conversations about injustices to particular groups of people; it actually encourages them, he said, although opponents disagreed, saying it was more of an effort to stop certain kinds of teaching even though they aren’t taught in Kentucky anyway.

Supporters said the bill is a response to the “growing concerns from parents, students and teachers alike, that our nation’s history is being rewritten in the academic setting. This has been a growing trend nationwide causing division and angst amongst parents and school boards.”

“This is definitely a good start. Here’s the thing, our teachers are not limited, this is not a ceiling list but this is a floor, of here are the minimum things you need to at least have covered,” said state Sen. Adrienne Southworth, a Lawrenceburg Republican.

“It is an effort to appease a segment of our population that is standing up and saying I don’t want my kids taught history the way history happened,” countered state Sen. Karen Berg, a Louisville Democrat.

The body then approved a resolution ending the COVID state of emergency March 7. Opponents said the measure isn’t needed because there are no mandates in place and the Legislature already has set a deadline.

Both measures still have to be approved by the House, which also is controlled by a Republican super majority.

The politics showed up even more on confirming Beshear appointments of Marianne Butler to the Public Service Commission and Brian Mackey to the Fist and Wildlife Commission. Opponents, who were larger Republicans, said Butler was part of “chaos’ at the Commission. 26 Senators voted against her confirmation.

Mackey has been at odds with Wildlife Commissioner and Republican favorite Rich Storm. he’s also supported lawsuits challenging the board’s transparency. 24 Senators voted against his reappointment.

Categories: Featured, Local News, News, State News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *