February 23

Kentucky bill aims at teaching American principles


Kentucky lawmakers delved into civics education Thursday by advancing Republican-backed legislation stemming from the national debate over critical race theory.

The bill cleared the Senate Education Committee, advancing to the GOP-dominated full Senate.

Wading into the politically charged issue, Republican Sen. Max Wise said he introduced the measure “with the intent to unify.” Saying there’s a general “lack of knowledge” on civics education, Wise said the bill seeks to educate Kentucky students on the country’s foundational principles.

“Let’s season our state’s academic standards with American principles and encourage teachers to help students explore original core documents, analyze historical and current issues and controversies,” he said during the committee hearing.

Wise, the committee chairman, said he agreed to make changes to the measure after receiving “valuable feedback” over concerns with the original measure. Instead of focusing on what should not be taught, it prioritizes what should be taught, Wise said.

He said he offered his bill in response to rising national concerns about education that have “degenerated into hostile monologues” and “state legislation that is being based on a negative list of ‘don’ts.’”

The bill allows teachers to conduct lessons on historical events while requiring lessons remain consistent with a set of American principles.

In opposing the bill, Democratic Sen. Reggie Thomas said Wise was well-intentioned but he stressed that he sees the measure as unnecessary.

“I don’t know why we create this boogeyman of critical race theory, and now we’re buying into that here in Kentucky, because we don’t teach critical race theory here in our K-through-12 schools,” Thomas said.

Thomas said it’s important not to “whitewash history” and to “tell it like it is.”

“History is very valuable,” he said. “It instructs us about the good and bad of our past. And it provides us with knowledge and insight of what we need to do better.”

Critical race theory is an academic framework that examines how racism has shaped public policy and institutions such as the legal system, and how those have perpetuated the dominance of white people in society. Multiple GOP-led states have banned or limited the teaching of critical race theory or similar concepts through laws or administrative actions.

Meanwhile, a Kentucky House committee advanced a proposed ballot measure Thursday that could eventually give local governments more latitude to generate tax revenue to pay for services.

The proposed constitutional amendment, which moves on to the full House, would go on the ballot for statewide voters to decide if it clears the legislature.

The measure, if added to Kentucky’s Constitution, would ease tight restrictions on the types of taxes that city and county governments can levy to meet their obligations.

“There’s no way to truly do comprehensive tax reform if we don’t address the local side as we address the state side,” said Republican Rep. Michael Meredith, the proposal’s lead sponsor.

The proposal’s supporters say current restrictions force local governments to rely heavily on property taxes and taxes levied on wages. Those limitations put Kentucky’s communities at a competitive disadvantage in trying to attract new businesses, they said.

Retailers have raised concerns about the proposal, worried that the constitutional change eventually could lead to new sales taxes that could hurt their businesses.

If the measure reaches the ballot and wins ratification, the legislature would follow up by creating a new framework for local governments in setting tax policy, Meredith said.

“This will not create a Wild West of local government taxation,” said J.D. Chaney with the Kentucky League of Cities.


The education legislation is Senate Bill 138. The local taxation legislation is House Bill 475.



You may also like

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Get in touch

0 of 350