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Controversial education bill advances in Kentucky Senate

In a 9-4 vote, Senate Bill 138, also known as the “Teaching America’s Principles” act, will now move forward to the full Kentucky Senate.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — A controversial bill looking to change what and how students learn about history was heard by the Kentucky Senate Standing Committee on Education Thursday.

In a 9-4 vote, Senate Bill 138, also known as the “Teaching America’s Principles” act, will now move forward to the full Kentucky Senate.

The bill looks to educate Kentucky students on the foundations of America’s principles using 24 primary source historical documents recognized by the Ashbrook Center.

The bill, sponsored by Senator Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, prohibits educators from requiring assignments deemed political or socially ideological if they go against the student or their family’s values or beliefs.

“I drafted this bill as a means to unify us,” Wise said. “It is critical that our children in grades K-12 are educated in not only the good, but also the controversial aspects of our history.”

Wise’s bill also includes a provision allowing educators to “opt-out of” teaching subjects on racial, ethnic or gender stereotyping.

“The intent of the bill is to give teachers the ‘ingredients’ required for instructing American history in a well-rounded manner,” Wise said. “But allowing them to design the ‘recipe’ by which to do so.”

He said he’s spoken with Kentuckians across the commonwealth and plans to pass legislation that “establishes and promotes true American principles within Kentucky state standards.”

But those against the bill say it's causing more issues than needed.

"I'm both sadden and frustrated," Senator Reginald Thomas, Senate Democratic Caucus Chair, said. "As I said in voting no on this bill today, this is a boogie man issue, because we don’t teach critical race theory here in K-12th grade, so it doesn’t exist. It’s a boogie man." 

Thomas said American history, both good and bad, teaches where we've come from and now Bill 138 hinders that. 

Timothy King, a Kentucky student, spoke in favor of the bill on Thursday. 

He said it was something important to him, and that he feels confident it will not hinder his education.

"We’re not saying exclude history, but we’re saying go for the truth. Get the real facts," King said. "Don’t get the lies, get the real facts. Not people's opinions but real facts."

The next step is for the bill to go before the full senate. If passed it will head to the house.

Contact reporter Gabrielle Harmon at gharmon@whas11.com. Follow her on Twitter (@_GabbyHarmonTV) and Facebook.

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