Editor's Note: The following is a list of model state civics bills which will be appended regularly. The bills are part of the National Association of Scholars' contribution to the Civics Alliance, a new coalition dedicated to defending and restoring true civics education across the United States. This model legislation represents the views of the NAS, not necessarily those of Civics Alliance members.
The NAS welcomes and will be grateful for suggestions to revise our model legislation. We expect to update these models in response to comments from members of the Civics Alliance and from the broader public.
To join the Civics Alliance, click here. To read more about why we formed the Civics Alliance, click here. To view a database of civics bills currently being considered by federal and state legislators, click here.
The Partisanship Out of Civics Act
The Partisanship Out of Civics Act (POCA) rescues public K-12 civics education from its takeover by radical activists. Radical activists seek to transform all education into political activism to advance “social justice.” Their favored pedagogy is “service-learning,” and they particularly focus on using civics education as a Trojan horse for their revolutionary project, by turning civics education, under names such as action civics, new civics, civic engagement, project-based civics, and global civics, into radical propaganda and vocational training for social justice activism. The Act prevents teachers from giving credit to service-learning or any other sort of public policy advocacy in history, government, civics, or social studies. It also bars civics classes from using the discriminatory ideology at the heart of Critical Race Theory.
The Classroom Teaching Act
The Classroom Teaching Act (CTA) eliminates service-learning pedagogy from public K-12 schools—and from any tax-supported activity. CTA bars funding any “Service-learning,” “Service-learning Coordinator,” or “Service Sponsor,” as defined by the federal legislation that authorizes federal expenditures for these three items. The CTA uses the federal definition partly because it provides a clear, legally enforceable definition and partly because it gives states a tailored means to bar all federally funded service-learning within their borders.
The Civics Literacy Act
The Civics Literacy Act (CLA) requires high school students, as a condition of graduation, to pass the U.S. Civics Test given to immigrants who wish to be naturalized. The CTA, by requiring K-12 civics education to include a core of factual knowledge, prevents state education bureaucrats from drafting curricula and standards that replace factual knowledge with social justice propaganda and/or action civics. The CTA’s reliance on the U.S. Civics Test as the basis of that factual knowledge also prevents state education bureaucrats from defining that core of factual knowledge. The CTA defends K-12 curricula from complete takeover by action civics, but it will not by itself guarantee that high school students learn enough about their country’s history and government. It should form the foundation of thorough instruction in civics.
The Civics Course Act
The Civics Course Act (CCA) establishes a K-12 civics course. Advocates of traditional civics must be careful about whether to push for a required civics course, since a loosely worded law might end up supporting action civics. Traditional civics proponents may prefer local decisions about civics courses to any state-mandated civics course. If traditional civics proponents do support a state-mandated civics course, it should be crafted so as to teach traditional civics and to avoid capture by action civics. The CCA delegates the mandate to create a civics curriculum to each school district rather than to the state education department. The CCA also includes mandates to study the documents of American history, which is harder for action civics proponents to subvert. Finally, the CCA duplicates much of the language of the Partisanship Out of Civics Act (POCA), to provide an explicit ban on service-learning and advocacy.
The American History Act
The American History Act (AHA) adds an American History and Government general education requirement to public universities. We provide two versions of the AHA. The first, modeled on existing requirements in 8 states, requires only one course (3 credits) in American History and American Government. The second, modeled on existing requirements in Texas, requires four courses (12 credits). Both versions include syllabus transparency requirements, so that state policymakers, the public, and students all can see how well individual classes fulfill the legal requirement to teach American History and American Government.
David Randall is Director of Research at the National Association of Scholars and Project Director of the Civics Alliance.
Image: Max Fischer, Public Domain