Public school students in the states of Kentucky and South Dakota will be returning for the 2019-2020 school year in several weeks. When they return, they will notice some new decor within the halls.
Schools in both states are being plastered with plaques, signs, and stenciling that noticeably displays "In God We Trust."
Both states have new legislation that requires "In God We Trust" to be displayed in schools. Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama and Arizona have had similar legislation already.
In South Dakota, Gov. Kristi Noem signed the legislation into law in March. It requires "In God We Trust" to be displayed in a format at least 12-by-12-inches in size. Whether the signage is a mounted plaque, student artwork or something else is left to be determined by school faculty.
The lawmakers who initially proposed the law believe that it will inspire patriotism in students. Right... sure. Like that is their only motive.
And then in Kentucky, Republican State Rep. Brandon Reed, a minister from Hodgenville, proposed the legislation that was passed by the Kentucky General Assembly earlier this year.
Before the law passed in Kentucky, the Kentucky ACLU wrote to state legislators and asked them not to pass it. "We ask you to refrain from mandating any religious observation or exercise of religion in our public schools,” their letter said. “We firmly believe that our legislature should be working to ensure that schools are adequately funded, that teachers are appropriately compensated, and that our students receive the highest quality education possible."
The ACLU's letter points out some real problems that Kentucky schools face. Penny Christian, the president of the PTA in Kentucky's 16th district admitted that she believed the law was a violation of church and state separation.
Christian also told reporters that the schools in Kentucky were struggling with education issues that are much more important to students, like funding and resolving council decision-making issues.
Despite many other critics in both states, beyond just the ACLU, the Christian theocrats are forging ahead. In South Dakota, they have even set up contingencies ahead of the expected lawsuits. The Attorney General will represent the schools for free.
It really is a pointless waste of everyone's time. Students need real solutions to problems of education funding, extracurricular programming, and more. The last thing they need is their school faculty expending money and time to plaster their school halls with signage praising a 2,000-year-old fairy tale.