It is some­what dif­fi­cult to rec­on­cile the pletho­ra of real­ly bad bills that passed out of the 2022 leg­isla­tive ses­sion of the Kentucky General Assembly with a pret­ty good bud­get bill, although the bud­get didn’t include pay rais­es for teach­ers, despite vir­tu­al­ly every oth­er pub­lic employ­ee get­ting an increase, includ­ing mem­bers of the leg­is­la­ture. The response from Republicans (who con­trolled all the bills and laws insti­tut­ed this year) is that extra funds were allo­cat­ed to all Kentucky school sys­tems and that many of those school sys­tems have indi­cat­ed that the extra funds will go to teacher raises. 

What they don’t include in that response is that those school sys­tems need­ed those extra funds just to make up for the short­falls of so many pre­vi­ous bud­gets and for bring­ing the sys­tems up to rea­son­able stan­dards.  There was extra mon­ey in this year’s bud­get, so a raise for teach­ers could eas­i­ly have been includ­ed except for the par­si­mo­nious leg­is­la­tors refus­ing to do so.

We The people text

SB 1 was an omnibus bill deal­ing with a lot of edu­ca­tion issues, includ­ing respon­si­bil­i­ties and lim­its for super­in­ten­dents, prin­ci­pals, and teachers.

It also includ­ed a require­ment to teach “core American documents.”

The core doc­u­ments which must be includ­ed in a his­to­ry cur­ricu­lum are, for the most part, an admirable inclu­sion of impor­tant state­ments and edicts of American his­to­ry. The list includes twen­ty-four doc­u­ments, from the Mayflower Compact and Declaration of Independence to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have A Dream speech of 1963, along with some impor­tant Supreme Court decisions.

The glar­ing dis­so­nance of the list comes at the very end with the inclu­sion of President Ronald Reagan’s A Time For Choosing speech of October 27, 1964.  This sev­en-page speech was deliv­ered before Reagan became pres­i­dent and was sim­ply a cam­paign speech in sup­port of Barry Goldwater who was run­ning for the office of President against Lyndon Johnson.

Remember Mr. Goldwater: “Extremism in defense of lib­er­ty is no vice”?

Only a Republican leg­is­la­ture could have come up with a list that includ­ed this speech that has no place in the lex­i­con of the oth­er doc­u­ments which con­sti­tute the “core American doc­u­ments.”  More impor­tant­ly, why should gov­ern­ment bod­ies be dic­tat­ing cur­ricu­lum content? 

It would per­haps have been some­what more appro­pri­ate to list President Reagan’s Tear Down This Wall speech or more of the Federalist Papers in addi­tion to the three listed.

The list of twen­ty-four doc­u­ments is includ­ed below.  Judge for your­self if the last one deserves to be includ­ed.  Better yet, look it up, read it for your­self, and see if you can equate it with The Gettysburg Address and the Declaration of Independence.

The 24 “core American documents”

  1. The Mayflower Compact
  2. The Declaration of Independence
  3. The Constitution of the United States
  4. The Federalist No. 1 (Alexander Hamilton)
  5. The Federalist Nos. 10 and 51 (James Madison)
  6. The June 8, 1789 speech on amend­ments to the Constitution by James Madison
  7. The first ten (10) amend­ments to the Constitution, also known as the Bill of Rights
  8. The 1796 Farewell Address by George Washington
  9. The U.S. Supreme Court opin­ion in Marbury v. Madison (1803)
  10. The Monroe Doctrine by James Monroe
  11. “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” speech by Frederick Douglass
  12. The U.S. Supreme Court opin­ion in Dred Scott v Sandford (1857)
  13. Final Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln
  14. The Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln
  15. Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States by Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage and Elizabeth Cady Stanton
  16. The September 18, 1895 Atlanta Exposition Address by Booker T. Washington
  17. Of Booker T. Washington and Others by W.E.B. DuBois
  18. The U.S. Supreme Court opin­ion in Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 (1896)
  19. The August 31, 1910 New Nationalism speech by Theodore Roosevelt
  20. The January 11, 1944 State of the Union Address by Franklin D. Roosevelt
  21. The U.S Supreme Court opin­ions in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954) and Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, (1955)
  22. Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr.
  23. The August 28, 1963 I Have a Dream speech by Martin Luther King, Jr.
  24. A Time for Choosing by Ronald Reagan, October 27, 1964

  • Chuck Witt

    Chuck is a retired archi­tect, a for­mer news­pa­per colum­nist, and a life­long res­i­dent of Winchester.