GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA
SENATE BILL 520*
Short Title: The Founding Principles Act.
Senators Vaughan; and Pate.
Rules and Operations of the Senate.
April 6, 2011
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
AN ACT to enact the founding principles act.
Whereas, the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the signing of the United States Constitution in 1787 were seminal events in the history of the United States, the Declaration of Independence providing the philosophical foundation on which the nation rests, and the Constitution of the United States providing its structure of government; and
Whereas, the Federalist Papers embody the most eloquent and forceful argument made in support of the adoption of our republican form of government; and
Whereas, these documents, along with the writings of the Founders, stand as the foundation of our form of democracy, providing at the same time the touchstone of our national identity and the vehicle for orderly growth and change; and
Whereas, these Founding Documents established a set of principles, known as the Founders' Principles, which are the heart and soul of a government for a free society; and
Whereas, these principles enabled a group of 13 colonies to become the greatest and most powerful nation on earth in a relatively short period of time; and
Whereas, most Americans do not know about nor understand the timely and timeless importance of these principles to our form of government and to their current lives; and
Whereas, the survival of the republic requires that our nation's children, the future guardians of its heritage and participants in its governance, have a clear understanding of these principles and the importance of their preservation; Now, therefore,
The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:
SECTION 1. This act shall be known as "The Founding Principles Act."
SECTION 2. G.S. 115C‑81(g) reads as rewritten:
"(g) Civic Literacy. –
(1) Local boards of education shall require during the
high school years the teaching of
the nation's founding and related
documents, which shall include at least the major principles in the either
a semester course or a full‑year course that focuses on the following:
a. The philosophical foundations of our form of government.
b. The principles underlying the Declaration
of Independence, the United States
Constitution and its amendments, and the
most important of the Federalist Papers.Constitution, the Federalist
Papers, and the writings of the Founders, which are the principles of
government for a free people and are known as the "Founders' Principles." (2) Local boards of education shall require
that high school students demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the nation's
founding and related documents in order to receive a certificate or diploma of
graduation from high school. (3)(2) Local boards of education shall include
among the requirements for graduation from high school a passing grade in all
courses that include primary instruction in either a semester course or
a full‑year course focused on the philosophical foundations of our form
of government and the principles underlying the Declaration of
Independence, the United States Constitution and its amendments, Constitution,
and the most important of the Federalist Papers.Papers,
and the writings of the Founders.
(3a) Local boards of education shall allow and may encourage any public school teacher or administrator to read or post in a public school building, classroom, or event, excerpts or portions of writings, documents, and records that reflect the history of the United States, including, but not limited to, (i) the preamble to the North Carolina Constitution, (ii) the Declaration of Independence, (iii) the United States Constitution, (iv) the Mayflower Compact, (v) the national motto, (vi) the National Anthem, (vii) the Pledge of Allegiance, (viii) the writings, speeches, documents, and proclamations of the founding fathers and Presidents of the United States, (ix) decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, and (x) acts of the Congress of the United States, including the published text of the Congressional Record. Local boards, superintendents, principals, and supervisors shall not allow content‑based censorship of American history in the public schools of this State, including religious references in these writings, documents, and records. Local boards and professional school personnel may develop curricula and use materials that are limited to specified topics provided the curricula and materials are aligned with the standard course of study or are grade level appropriate.
(3b) A local school administrative unit may display on real property controlled by that local school administrative unit documents and objects of historical significance that have formed and influenced the United States legal or governmental system and that exemplify the development of the rule of law, such as the Magna Carta, the Mecklenburg Declaration, the Ten Commandments, the Justinian Code, and documents set out in subdivision (3a) of this subsection. This display may include, but shall not be limited to, documents that contain words associated with a religion; provided however, no display shall seek to establish or promote religion or to persuade any person to embrace a particular religion, denomination of a religion, or other philosophy. The display of a document containing words associated with a religion shall be in the same manner and appearance generally as other documents and objects displayed and shall not be presented or displayed in any fashion that results in calling attention to it apart from the other displayed documents and objects. The display also shall be accompanied by a prominent sign quoting the First Amendment of the United States Constitution as follows: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."
(4) The State Board of Education shall require that any
high school level curriculum‑based tests developed and administered
statewide beginning with the 2012‑2013 academic year
include questions related to the philosophical foundations of our form
of government and the principles underlying the Declaration of
Independence, the United States Constitution and its amendments,Constitution,
and the most important of the Federalist Papers.
(5) The State Department of Public Instruction and the
local boards of education, as appropriate, shall
establish provide or
cause to be provided curriculum content for the semester course or a
full‑year course and provide for teacher training to ensure
that the intent and provisions of this subsection are carried out. The
curriculum content established shall include a review of the contributions made
by Americans of all races.
(6) The State Department of Public Instruction shall submit a biennial report to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee and to the chairs of the education committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives covering the following:
a. The implementation of this subsection.
b. The statewide student results from the State curriculum‑based tests administered in accordance with subdivision (3) of this subsection."
SECTION 3. This act is effective when it becomes law and applies beginning with the 2012‑2013 school year.