As I mentioned yesterday, the Fayette County Public Schools in Lexington, Kentucky found a brilliant way to follow a new law requiring them to publicly post the words “In God We Trust” inside buildings.
Rather than send schools giant posters with the national motto, or have the words painted on the walls, they sent each school a framed copy of the back of a one dollar bill since the words are right on there.
Since yesterday, a number of media outlets have confirmed that this is happening district-wide, not just at the one school in the picture above, and both the District and the politician who proposed the law have weighed in on the matter.
LEX 18 finally received a statement from the Fayette County Schools last night:
We had a wonderful first day in the Fayette County Public Schools, welcoming a record number of students back to campus. Our families, students and employees who care for them are focused on learning. Like every school district in the Commonwealth, Fayette County Public Schools has complied with the requirements of the new law to display the national motto in our schools. All schools in our district have been provided a framed version of an enlarged copy of a one dollar bill to display in a prominent location.
Okay. Fine. Pretty boring statement, but it shows this is how the District is handling the law. It wasn’t one rogue staffer at one school.
The more interesting statement came from Rep. Brandon Reed, the Christian evangelist who sponsored the “In God We Trust” bill that was eventually signed into law. Remember that Reed justified his bill last August by saying, “We are one nation under God, and that reality should be reflected in public life.”
It is extremely disappointing to see Fayette County Public Schools spend time searching for silly loopholes to a law that passed with broad support from both Democrats and Republicans and received over 70 votes in the House of Representatives.
Instead of empowering students by allowing them to create artwork displaying our national motto, Fayette County has instead chosen to play political games and deprive students of that opportunity. Many districts across the state have chosen the avenue of creative student artwork, which my bill expressly allowed for and would come at little to no cost to our schools. Our national motto is prominently displayed in other public institutions, and is something to be proud of, not ashamed. I hope to see FCPS reconsider their unfortunate decision.
FCPS Superintendent Manny Caulk responded to Reed’s statement, too. I’d like to think it was made with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
We appreciate the spirit of bipartisanship and cooperation that Rep. Reed mobilized to pass legislation that had a direct impact on the 1,466 public schools in Kentucky, and hope he will continue to bring together lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to address the most pressing needs facing public education in our great Commonwealth.
Our students and families need lawmakers to reverse more than a decade of underfunding public education by investing in early childhood education to open windows of opportunity for children who are coming to school behind their peers, expanding funding for full day kindergarten so that students in every school district in Kentucky have a strong start to their educational career, and providing the resources to cover mandates in Senate Bill 1, which a bipartisan working group determined were necessary for the safety of our students and those who educate them.
As a student of history, I am disappointed to hear Fayette County’s compliance with the state law requiring the display of our nation’s motto described as a loophole. Our actions are not part of a political game as Rep. Reed suggested. We have taken our lead from the members of the 84th United States Congress, who passed a joint resolution on July 11, 1955 determining that the most appropriate and enduring placement of the national motto was on all U.S. currency and coins. How can that display, used daily in commerce, be acceptable and ours considered unfortunate and silly?
I assure you that no superintendents in Kentucky are celebrating legislation that affects all “1,466 public schools.” Anytime the government tells schools what to do, especially when it’s a GOP-dominated legislature doing it today, you can bet it’s bad news.
As for the last comment, it’s perfect. If Reed is angry, he must not think the currency is an appropriate place for the national motto!
Listen: A smarter legislator would have specified the size and location and design of these signs. By leaving the details up for grabs in the legislation, Reed practically asked administrators to do whatever they wanted. Now he’s unhappy that they’re following the law.
He has no one to blame but himself.
(Screenshot via YouTube)