SB 117: Teaching the Founding Documents in US History Classes

 

Bill Status

2/2  Passed Senate (39-6)


Bill History


 

 

Executive Summary

SB 117 would guarantee that when high school U.S. History is taught in government run schools in Indiana that the structure of state and federal governments, including the role of separation of powers, the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution, and the Federalist Papers must be included. 

SB 117 would also ensure that The United States Civics Test prepared by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services be administered to all students enrolled in a high school U.S. History course.

 

Analysis

According to the Pew Research Center, only about one-third of Americans can name the three branches of government, much less say what each does.  In Indiana our academic standards do address the Founding Era of the United States.  However, this foundational era of US History is mainly emphasized within elementary school (primarily 5th grade). 

The role of separation of powers, the structure of state and federal governments, the Constitution and the Federalist Papers are supposed to be taught in high school.  However, more modern history is emphasized. 

As important as the history of our nation is between the Founding Era and today, the common values and ideas that bind our Constitutional Republic together and allow us to move forward together as a nation lie in those founding documents and concepts.  Without a key understanding by citizens of the role of the separation of powers, the structure of state and federal governments, the Constitution and the key principles within the Federalist Papers we the people lose our ability to hold up our end of the bargain when it comes to self-government. 

As this video shows, there is a growing ignorance to these foundational principles that threatens our nation to its very core.

 

Conclusion

The Indiana General Assembly is pressed with setting public policy for the State of Indiana.  It cannot and should not micromanage every detail of curriculum within the schools it oversees.  However, encouraging schools to emphasize the Founding Documents of our nation when US History is being taught is greatly needed and strikes the correct balance of showing the leadership needed to set broad public policy while simultaneously not micromanaging how those key principles are implemented.  We must make civic education a greater priority within high schools throughout Indiana.  Even if that means other important eras within US History are de-emphasized. 

IFI supports SB 117.