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Ohio’s founding documents law

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Ohio Governor John Kasich

Speaking of what Americans need to know about their government, last Monday, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed into law a bill that will require students in grades 4-12 to be taught history using the primary texts of the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, the Northwest Ordinance, and the Ohio Constitution, among others.

As the Columbus Dispatch notes, a 2011 report by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute was the impetus behind the law. That report noted that “There is little American history content or educational rigor in Ohio’s standards. Before eighth grade, there is effectively none. […] The high school course, while marginally more sophisticated, is still exceedingly brief and general; at best, it offers a very basic outline. There are no dates beyond the topic titles; hardly any specific events are mentioned and not a single person is named.”

As we reported in last year’s policy brief, “Contested Curriculum: How Teachers and Citizens View Civics Education,” when asked to rank five possible priorities for teaching citizenship education, “almost 40 percent of citizens rank teaching facts first or second, compared to half that percentage for teachers.” It’s clear that the public wants schools to teach students facts about their country and its founding. Teaching students the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence is certainly a step in the right direction.