Apr 7, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Kentucky governor vetoes anti-critical race theory bill

Photo of Andy Beshear speaking from a podium in front of a Team Kentucky sign

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks during a news conference in Frankfort, Ky., on Jan. 27. Photo: Jon Cherry/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed Thursday a bill that contains language attempting to restrict concepts related to race.

Why it matters: The legislation, part of a wave of backlash against critical race theory, instructs public schools to teach students curricula that align with certain ideals, 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."

  • The bill also says defining racial disparities solely on the legacy of slavery is "destructive to the unification of our nation."

What he's saying: "Senate Bill 1 tries to police classroom discussions on topics such as race," Beshear wrote in a veto letter.

  • "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."
  • The bill also "inserts itself into the decision-making of the curriculum of local school districts" and "attempts to dictate how teachers talk about U.S. history," he said.
  • "For the future of our country, American children and adults must be able to exercise their First Amendment rights and have important discussions free of government censorship."

The big picture: The legislation is one of several GOP-led bills seeking to restrict classroom discussions on topics like race. Several states have enacted laws banning critical race theory in schools, even though it is an academic framework most commonly taught in college.

  • Kentucky's Republican-controlled state legislature can still override Beshear's veto.
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