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Ky. Republican senators call for 'civility' in school meetings, citing ‘anxiety’ created during pandemic

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Kentucky Association of School Administrators
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Screenshot, Facebook
State Sen. Danny Carroll at Thursday's press conference.

Some Kentucky Republican state senators have filed a resolution asking for more “civility and respect” from parents and K-12 school leaders, citing the anxiety created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republican Sen. Danny Carroll of Benton said the Kentucky Association of School Administrators called for the resolution, which was introduced in January.

“You all have seen video of meetings that have absolutely gone too far,” Carroll said. “The example we set is the example that the generations that follow us, those are the actions that they will live by.”

Senate Education Committee Chair Max Wise and Senate President Pro Tempore Republican David Givens, both Republicans, are also sponsoring the resolution.

School board meetings across the state have seen public confrontations from parents and other community members over whether to mask students and how race is taught in the classroom.

The resolution doesn’t explicitly mention masks or confrontations regarding how race is taught, but states: “events taking place during the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic have increased the level of anxiety and uneasiness among adults and children alike, and have led to confrontational and unproductive encounters between participants in public meetings and discussions.”

Carroll said the resolution was still needed despite pushback by Democrats and some educators against GOP legislation targeting discussions of race and U.S. history in the classroom advancing in the General Assembly. Carroll said people can be civil while also being passionate about issues.

Referring to Wise’s bill dealing with how teachers talk about race and history, Carroll said it “does nothing to suppress those conversations.”

“What it does hope to suppress is our children being indoctrinated to the views of one particular teacher, or whatever the case might be – it's to balance those things out,” Carroll said.

Carroll and Givens also responded to claims by the Kentucky Democratic Party that the Republican majority in the legislature has an “anti-semitism problem.” On Wednesday, GOP Rep. Danny Bentley of Russell made bizarre comments about Jewish women and the Holocaust during a debate Wednesday about anti-abortion legislation. Bentley later apologized for the comments.

Two Republican lawmakers apologized last week for using an anti-semitic slur during a committee meeting.

Both incidents were quickly condemned by Jewish organizations and leaders in the state. In a statement, Kentucky Democratic Party Chair Colmon Elridge called it an “appalling pattern.”

Carroll said “those claims are ridiculous.”

“The record shows that we do everything that is within our power to ensure equality for everyone,” Carroll said.

"Liam Niemeyer is a reporter for the Ohio Valley Resource covering agriculture and infrastructure in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia and also serves Assistant News Director at WKMS. He has reported for public radio stations across the country from Appalachia to Alaska, most recently as a reporter for WOUB Public Media in Athens, Ohio. He is a recent alumnus of Ohio University and enjoys playing tenor saxophone in various jazz groups."
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