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Kentucky governor vetoes bill incorporating ‘anti-critical race theory,’ calling it a step backward


Beshear vetoed the bill with a veto letter saying, “Senate Bill 1 tries to police classroom discussions on topics such as race. These are discussions our children are having with or without adults in our schools. Prescribing a rigid approach to what must be ‘taught’ in those discussions will lessen if not erase them.”

SB1 states in part that public schools shall provide instructions that align with certain concepts including: “An individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, does not bear responsibility for actions committed by other members of the same race or sex;” and “The understanding that the institution of slavery and post-Civil War laws enforcing racial segregation and discrimination were contrary to the fundamental American promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as expressed in the Declaration of Independence, but that defining racial disparities solely on the legacy of this institution is destructive to the unification of our nation.”

In his letter, Beshear said that children and adults must be able to exercise their First Amendment rights and have important discussions free of government censorship.

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Although the legislation does not implicitly use the term critical race theory, the bill’s language shares similarities with other measures passed in Republican-controlled states.

Samuel Crankshaw, communications manager for the ACLU of Kentucky, said Wednesday that SB 1 is “part of a nationwide strategy to whitewash history, perpetuate white supremacy, and erase marginalized people — particularly people of color and LGBTQ people. They would also deny educators and students their First Amendment right to free speech.”

Beshear notes that the bill would require teachers to incorporate “a specific set of historical documents and speeches” into lectures.

“These texts were not selected by historians or scholars, but by a political body.”

One of the required texts is Ronald Reagan’s 1964 political campaign speech “A Time For Choosing,” Beshear said. “the fact that this text is included over others like Dwight Eisenhower’s statement to troops in advance of the D-Day invasion suggests the bill is aimed more at politics than at history.”

The House passed the current version of the bill with a vote of 67-29 and the Senate passed the bill 21-15-1. A majority vote by members of both houses can override a governor’s veto, according to the Kentucky General Assembly legislative process page.

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