Bill To Delay School for Ark Visits

Our clandestine operative in Kentucky — whom we’ll call “Bluegrass” — has been keeping us informed of editorials and columns in the newspaper of Grant County, where ol’ Hambo’s “replica” of Noah’s Ark is being constructed.

Our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) have also been following events, and they are becoming concerned. They’ve just posted Extending summer vacation for the sake of creationism?, which says, with some bold font added by us:

Will Kentucky extend the duration of summer vacation in order to enable students to attend a creationist attraction? Two state senators plan to file a bill that would “prevent schools from starting earlier than the first Monday closest to Aug. 26,” according to the Grant County News (August 12, 2015), in the hope of boosting tourist spending. Damon Thayer (R-District 17), the prospective sponsor of the bill along with Chris Girdler (R-District 15), told the newspaper, “Grant County is set to become a major tourist destination due to the presence of the Ark.”

Thayer was referring to Ark Encounter, a Noah’s-ark-themed attraction under construction by the young-earth creationist ministry Answers in Genesis, which also operates a “museum” in Kentucky.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! They want to delay the start of school so the kiddies can spend their time visiting Hambo’s creationist wonderland? Here’s that newspaper article: Thayer: Schools need later start date. It says:

As students head back to class this week, a local legislator hopes to extend the summer in the future. Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, and Sen. Chris Girdler, R-Somerset, have announced plans to file Senate Bill 129 for the 2016 legislative session. SB 129 is a measure that would prevent schools from starting earlier than the first Monday closest to Aug. 26, granting local control to school boards should they choose to start classes before Labor Day.

[…]

“Grant County is set to become a major tourist destination due to the presence of the Ark,” Thayer said. “But there won’t be many families from Kentucky visiting in August if we continue with the current calendar.” Thayer and Girdler also believe the bill will aid agriculture in Kentucky as well by allowing children who would be in school to help on family farms during the thick of harvest season. Additionally, the legislators said prolonging the start of classes will improve energy efficiency at schools.

Worthy goals indeed! The only thing missing is giving the kiddies class credit for the time they spend at the Ark. We can’t find a copy of their proposed bill among those that have been pre-filed. For 2015, the Kentucky legislature convened on 06 January and adjourned on 25 March, so there’s plenty of time before next year’s session begins.

Who are those legislators? Here are their pages at the website of the Kentucky legislature: Senator Damon Thayer (R). He’s the president of something called Thayer Communications & Consulting. And this is the page of Senator Chris Girdler (R). His occupation is cryptically described as “Real Estate Services.”

Okay, back to NCSE. They say:

Educators in Kentucky have reportedly been cool to the idea of the state requiring local schools to start later in the year, citing both the ideal of local control of education and the danger of impairing student learning.

Bah, humbug! Thayer and Girdler don’t care about education. They want to encourage visitors to Hambo’s Ark. After all, that’s important! Anyway, we have the promise of an interesting issue to follow in the months to come. We’ll keep you advised.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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9 responses to “Bill To Delay School for Ark Visits

  1. Holding the Line in Florida

    Those lightweights in Kentucky! We are light years ahead of them here in FL. Our legislature already did that, got rid of it, re-introduced it, modified it. In the 15 years I have been teaching in the state we have started our school year the same time back to back only 2 years. This year we began 3 Aug. and end 23 May. Last year we began 17 Aug and ended 6 June. The year before that we began 1 Aug and ended 20 May. The year before that we began 20 Aug and ended 10 June. Of course the counties that performed well chose their own date, the ones who performed poorly had their date chosen by the legislature. Welcome to the People’s Republic Of Florida!

  2. Stephen Kennedy

    I have never spent more than a couple of days in the bible belt but it seems that the mentality there is completely alien to the rest of the country. That two people could get elected to public office and think it is politically advantageous to themselves to promote legislation that implies it would be a more educationally enriching for students to visit the absurd ark park than attend school is just incomprehensible.

    And I could only roll my eyes when I read that they also justify changing the school start date so that children could work in agriculture. The 19th century has been over for 115 years now in most places but I wonder if Kentucky has ever left it.

  3. This is a BS boondoggle!!
    Hay! kid school starts 2 weeks later …where do you want to go??? To the lake to swim and chase girls!
    Schite! two more weeks to pay a baby sitter!!!!
    Ark Encounter??? Who has the time or money??!!!??

  4. I don’t think schools should be allowed to start before labor day. While this is motivated to drum up tourism for Hambo’s ark, school in August is a bad idea. It does interfere with family vacations during prime vacation weather, and yes it is bad for the tourism industry. I’m not sure why schools decided to begin starting in August, but in my experience it was mostly to get the buerocratic nonsense out of the way so serious classwork could begin in September after Labor day. Also consider after Labor day school is the law in Michigan and it had nothing to do with visting the ark (but everything to do with tourism)
    I can’t believe the bill sponsors brought up chore working farm kids as a reason for the bill though, that makes it sound a bit desperate and anachronistic.

  5. Derek Freyberg

    Schools here (California Bay Area) used to start around Labor Day, but the local high school district started yesterday. The elementary district starts next week, but plans to start on September 1 in 2016. I assume year end is adjusted correspondingly. I’m unaware of any reason for this – though I’m confident it’s not because of Ark Encounter.
    But we were traveling in Kentucky last week, and school was already back in at least some districts; and that seems awfully early.
    Labor Day seems like a good time.

  6. it doesn’t seem odd to anyone that this bill is introduced in the wake of Hambo’s Alternative Reality Playhouse being refused public funds? Is this an attempt at establishing a precedent that could be used later to undermine the state attempting to refuse the next round of Hambo’s demands for public funds?

    The legislators that support Hambo are likely doing it for one reason and that reason most likely involves bags of cash.

  7. The only thing starting school later will accomplish is to give kids more time to forget what they learned the previous year.

    That, of course, doesn’t other the Hamster, because he prefers that students be more ignorant, so that they won’t see his creation for the fundamentalist ark pork it is.

  8. “Grant County is set to become a major tourist destination due to the presence of the Ark,” Thayer said.

    Isn’t the whole idea to attract out-of-state tourists? How will keeping Kentucky kids out of school in August going to accomplish that?

    Now, the agriculture angle might make sense in Kentucky, where tobacco is a major cash crop. I don’t know when the tobacco is harvested, but it is very labor intensive, and unskilled labor at that. The tobacco is harvested leaf by leaf, which are then tied by the stems in bundles and hung to dry in special sheds. Of course, starting schools later for this reason only makes sense if the harvesting takes place in August. (However, using children under 18 to harvest tobacco may not be allowed any more, since much nicotine is absorbed through the skin in the handling. I’ll see what I can find on that after I post this.)

  9. Evidently, it’s still legal to use children to harvest tobacco in the US.

    https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/05/14/us-child-workers-danger-tobacco-farms