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Kansas House Votes For, Then Against Ethnic Studies Curriculum For Schools

Stephen Koranda
Kansas Public Radio/File photo

The Kansas House today approved a bill creating an ethnic studies curriculum for Kansas schools, but then took a change of course on the plan.

The House initially approved an amendment requiring the Kansas Department of Education to develop an optional ethnic studies curriculum. Democratic Rep. Ponka-We Victors, who’s Native American, says she has found many students don’t know enough about other cultures.

“I even had one student ask me, ‘I didn’t think Native Americans still existed.’ We need this in our schools. It’s not going to hurt or harm anybody, it’s going to bring awareness,” Victors says.

The amendment was added to a bill requiring Kansas schools to teach financial literacy.

Republican Rep. Don Hineman says he’s not opposed to teaching ethnic studies or financial literacy, but the Kansas Board of Education should make those decisions.

“And that’s really their responsibility. I viewed it as usurping the power of that body and suggested we step back and let them do their jobs,” Hineman says.

The bill passed on a first-round vote, then ultimately failed on a final vote of 43-81.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and High Plains Radio covering health, education and politics.