Kentucky Asks What Year Is It?
Kentucky's state school board has apparently resolved a spat over historical date references in social studies classes, but not before the state's governor, facing an uphill re-election bid, seized on the issue.
And while the immediate controversy over the use of B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini, Latin for "in the year of the Lord") may have subsided, related fights over the proper role of religion in public schools appear to be far from settled.
Earlier this year, staff at the Kentucky Department of Education proposed substituting C.E. (Common Era) for A.D. and B.C.E. (Before the Common Era) for B.C. in draft curriculum guidelines for high school and middle school social studies classes.
The common B.C./A.D. system is based on the supposed year of Christ's birth a date posited by the monk Dionysius Exiguus in the year 525. Years after Christ's birth go up; those before it are counted backwards.
The proposal quickly came under attack from a conservative group, the Family Foundation of Kentucky, which accused state officials of trying to strip religious references from the state's public schools.
In April, the statewide education board restored A.D. and B.C. to the guidelines, but only after including both systems B.C./B.C.E. and A.D./C.E. The school board is expected to take final action in June on the voluntary guidelines, which spell out key concepts students are expected to master in all grades and subjects.
The spat is reminiscent of fights over religion in public schools that have flared in other states, most often over the teaching of "intelligent design" in science courses.
Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher, speaking at a bill-signing ceremony for a measure authorizing the installation of a Ten Commandments ...