Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Ethnic Curriculum Add-On Kills Bill ; Ethnic: Dem Not Surprised

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Ethnic Curriculum Add-On Kills Bill ; Ethnic: Dem Not Surprised

Article excerpt

They were for it before they were against it.

Lawmakers flip-flopped en masse Monday as the House appeared poised to pass legislation calling for the development of an ethnic studies curriculum for Kansas students before more than 40 representatives changed their yes votes to no -- killing the bill.

The bill bled out slowly as legislators raised their hands and were called on one-by-one to switch their position. In the end, after an initial, soaring vote count of 87-37, the bill lay dead at 43-81.

The vote came just a couple hours after a rare -- and, in the end, short-lived -- victory for Democrats.

The underlying legislation, House Bill 2532, added financial literacy to a list of capacities students are supposed to have that is designed by the board. The House earlier voted 70-51 to adopt an amendment to the bill from Rep. John Alcala, D-Topeka, that would have required the state board of education to create a voluntary ethnic studies curriculum for schools. The House then advanced the bill in a voice vote.

As the final vote on the bill began, its prospects looked bright. The chamber's voting board lit up green -- a sea of yes votes.

Then Rep. Don Hineman, R-Dighton, stepped to the lectern and, in a short speech, told the House that the bill usurped the state board's role. The yes votes began to drop immediately afterward.

"There may have been other politics involved. I'll let you folks speculate," Hineman said, when asked about his apparent persuasive powers.

After the vote, Alcala said he had remained skeptical even after his amendment was approved.

"There's nothing surprising to me," Alcala said. "Everybody was saying to me, 'Good job on getting your amendment on.' But I told them, 'Hey, the dance wasn't over yet.' We had a long way to go."

No one testified against the original bill at its hearing in the House Education Committee. The bill drew support from the Kansas National Education Association, as well as the Kansas Association of School Boards. …

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