LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- After a heated debate this spring in Frankfort, educators in Kentucky will soon be required by state law to teach a specific set of 24 historical documents.

The new requirements stem from the Teaching American Principles Act that was originally debated as Senate Bill 138 before being folded into Senate Bill 1 and passed.

Supporters claimed the act created a common, patriotic culture with values that would unify students. State Senator Max Wise, a Republican, called it legislation that "aligns true North American principles with state standards."

But critics saw the act as an attempt take away local control for curriculum. State Sen. Gerald Neal, a Democrat, accusing it of "disrespecting and dumbing down the education of our children."

Here is a list of the 24 documents the law requires Kentucky teachers to include in social studies curriculum:

  • The Mayflower Compact
  • The Declaration of Independence
  • The Constitution of the United States
  • The Federalist No. 1 (Alexander Hamilton)
  • The Federalist Nos. 10 and 51 (James Madison)
  • The June 8, 1789 speech on amendments to the Constitution of the United States by James Madison
  • The first 10 amendments to the Constitution of the United States, also known as the Bill of Rights.
  • The 1796 Farewell Address by George Washington
  • The United States Supreme Court opinion on Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803)
  • The Monroe Doctrine by James Monroe
  • "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" speech by Frederick Douglass
  • The United States Supreme Court opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857)
  • Final Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln
  • The Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln
  • Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States by Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage and Elizabeth Cady Stanton
  • The September 18, 1895 Atlanta Exposition Address by Booker T. Washington
  • Of Booker T. Washington and Others by W.E.B. Du Bois
  • The United States Supreme Court opinion in Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896)
  • The Aug. 31, 1910, New Nationalism speech by Theodore Roosevelt
  • The  Jan. 11, 1944, State of the Union Address by Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • The United States Supreme Court opinions in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954) and Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 349 U.S. 294 (1955).
  • Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • The  Aug. 28, 1963, I have a Dream speech by Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • A Time for Choosing speech by Ronald Reagan.

The Kentucky Department of Education said a curriculum change like this would normally take two years, but the law says it must go into effect July 2023.

That timeline was announced to lawmakers on Tuesday in an interim education committee. Fifth graders will be the first to have the documents in their academic standards, but the documents could be taught prior to that.

Eighth graders will focus on the documents from 1600 to 1877, and high school students are expected to cover the documents from 1877 to the present day.

"I don't think that will be their only exposure to the pieces, but at least in terms of the standards, that's where they will live," said Micki Ray, the chief academic officer for the Kentucky Department of Education, KDE.  

Ray said as for educators, it likely won't upend their current lesson plans and they're not limited to just the 24 explicitly stated documents.

"Most would say they're already utilizing these documents anyway," she said.

The process isn't over yet, but Ray said it's likely the basis of what was presented Tuesday will stay the same.

KDE says there will be another public comment period expected in December when families and educators can weigh in on the changes.

The exact date hasn't been determined.

To see the full presentation from KDE, click here.

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