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

Beshear vetoed the bill with a veto letter saying, “Senate Bill 1 tries to control classroom discussions on topics such as race. These are discussions our children have with or without adults in our schools. Prescribing a rigid approach to what should being “taught” in these discussions will lessen if not erase them.”

SB1 states in part that public schools must provide instruction that aligns with certain concepts, including: “An individual, because of race or sex, is not responsible for acts committed by other members of the same race or of the same sex; and “The understanding that the institution of slavery and post-Civil War laws imposing racial segregation and discrimination were contrary to the fundamental American promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, such as expressed in the Declaration of Independence, but that defining racial disparities solely on the legacy of that institution is destructive to the unification of our nation.”

In his letter, Beshear said children and adults must be able to exercise their First Amendment rights and have meaningful discussions without government censorship.

Although the legislation does not implicitly use the term critical race theory, the language of the bill 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, especially 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Beshear notes that the bill would require teachers to incorporate “a specific set of historical documents and speeches” into lessons.

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

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

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

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