Jim Waters

Northern Kentucky Republican Rep. Joe Fischer is taking heat from some leftists after pre-filing legislation banning teaching or instructional materials in Kentucky’s public schools which assumes or suggests an individual by virtue of his or her race or sex is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive; bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race; or is made to “feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress” simply because of race, sex or religion.

Bill Request 69 also includes bans on instruction and materials, claiming “meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist or were created by members of a particular race to oppress members of another race” or that the commonwealth or nation is “fundamentally or irredeemably racist or sexist.”

Advocating “the violent overthrow of the United States government” is also banned.

While Fischer’s bill was requested by constituents — many of them parents — opponents of Fischer’s legislation are calling foul, claiming decisions about what is or isn’t taught in Kentucky schools should be made at the local level, not in Frankfort.

For example, the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents (KASS) mistakenly claims “governance structures already exist at the local level” to address these issues and that local decision-making is “critical to the success of our schools because it empowers our parents. ...”

Parents are not empowered by the current local governance structure in the commonwealth’s public schools.

The law creating School-Based Decision Making (SBDM) councils governing Kentucky schools prohibits parents from holding the majority vote and thus being empowered to overrule staff if they oppose what’s being taught or practiced in their children’s classrooms.

The councils are “essentially unaccountable to the general public,” according to Gary Houchens, Ph.D., who teaches education administration at Western Kentucky University.

Houchens, a Bluegrass Institute Scholar, noted recently on KET’s “Kentucky Tonight” that while school boards are locally elected, they have “no control whatsoever” over what gets taught in their districts’ schools.

He reluctantly acknowledged that the current scenario means legislation is needed to ensure parents that “problematic concepts” associated with the controversial critical race theory (CRT) “are limited in the way they’re presented in their children’s classrooms.”

If a Kentucky school wants to mimic some local schools or districts in other states by requiring that white students confess their racial guilt prior to graduation or forcing kindergartners to watch a video of dead Black children while warning them about how “racist police and state-sanctioned violence” might kill them at any moment, what recourse other than legislation do parents have under the current SBDM system?

Louisville Democratic Sen. Gerald Neal, who also appeared on the KET show, supports giving Kentucky teachers carte blanche in teaching CRT.

“Who are we in big government to tell folks at that level exactly what is needed?” Neal countered.

But Kentucky already has such legislation.

Frankfort requires local schools to instruct students about the Holocaust and other subjects like Veterans Day.

Just three years ago, Neal and all but a handful of his fellow legislators voted to require schools teach “essential skills” for the workforce like how to dress appropriately, the importance of avoiding drugs and being punctual.

Neal, education commissioner Jason Glass, the KASS and other groups say Kentucky has local control and empowers parents when they know very well that SBDM policy prevents such leverage.

These same special interests know full well it benefits their leftist ideology to have ultimate control in all educational matters involving our children — from where they attend school to whether they’re taught CRT, maybe even instead of their ABCs.

Jim Waters is president and CEO of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Read previous columns at www.bipps.org. He can be reached at jwaters@freedomkentucky.com and @bipps on Twitter.

Jim Waters is president and CEO of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Read previous columns at www.bipps.org. He can be reached at jwaters@freedomkentucky.com and @bipps on Twitter.