Many states have enacted laws affecting civics and history education that should be repealed in whole or in part. These laws either distract from and abbreviate a proper education in civics and history, or directly undermine it. Our model civics legislation implicitly overrides a great many of these laws, but state legislators should remove these laws entirely.
Action Civics, Service Learning, Project Based Assessment
Many states have passed laws that authorize action civics, service learning, project-based assessments, and community service. Policymakers’ absolute priority should be to repeal laws that authorize action civics (including by names such as “civic engagement”), service learning, and project-based assessments. These laws all facilitate action civics. A proper civics education requires their repeal.
We also call for the repeal of legislation requiring community service in public schools. Community service is not as directly politicized as action civics, but it weakens public schools’ proper focus on classroom instruction. Schools already serve the community by educating students and students already serve the community by learning. Government schools should not have any role in community service. When government schools have the power to encourage or discourage any particular community service, administrators and teachers gain the power to exercise improper influence to direct that service as suits their personal preferences. When government schools take up the role of providing community service, they lose faith in their proper mission of providing a classroom mission. Neither does it improve students’ character when the government requires them to perform community service. Community service only improves character when it is chosen voluntarily.
Parents, churches, and other voluntary organizations should encourage students to perform community service—but not in the schools, and not as a requirement for high school graduation.
Existing State Statutes, Which Should Be Repealed in Whole or in Part
- California: Cal Ed Code Div. 4 Part 28, Chap. 3 § 51470 – 51474 [State Seal of Civic Engagement [51470 – 51474]]
- Colorado: C.R.S. 22-1-104 [Teaching of history, culture, and civil government]
- Delaware: 14 DE Code § 2702 [Civic Engagement Excused Absence]
- Florida: Fla. Stat. § 1003.41 [Next Generation Sunshine State Standards]
- Indiana: IC 20-19-10 [Indiana Civic Education Commission]
- Massachusetts: Ma. Gen. Laws, Ch. 71, §2 [Teaching of history and social science; professional development; student-led civic projects; commonwealth civics challenge]
- New Jersey: N.J. Stat. § 18A:35- 2 .1 [Civics curriculum guidelines]
- Rhode Island: R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-22-2 [Civics education]
- Texas: Texas Education Code §28.002 [Required Curriculum]
- Virginia: Va. Code Ann. § 22.1-254 [Guidelines on excused student absences; civic engagement]
- Connecticut: CT Gen Stat § 10-221a [High school graduation requirements]
- Florida: Fla. Stat. § 1003.497 [Service learning]
- Illinois: 105 ILCS 5/27-3.10 [Elementary school civics course of study]; 105 ILCS 5/27-22 [Required high school courses]
- Missouri: RSMo 170.037 [Adoption of service-learning programs and projects encouraged — state board of education to provide assistance, when]
- North Carolina: N.C. Gen. Stat. §115C.81.60 [Character education]
- Rhode Island: R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-22-21 [Community service learning]
Project Based Assessment
- Tennessee: Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-1018 [Governor’s Civics Seal]; Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-1028 [Legislative findings – Public school courses and content to educate children in the United States and Tennessee governments]
- Arkansas: ACA § 6-16-120 [Community service—Academic credit]
- California: Cal Ed Code Div. 4 Part 28, Chap. 2 § 51230 [Courses of Study, Grades 7 to 12 [51220 – 51230]]; Cal Ed Code Div. 4 Part 28, Chap. 5 § 51810 – 51815 [Community Service Classes [51810 – 51815]]
- Illinois: 105 ILCS 5/27-22.3 [Volunteer service credit program]
- Kansas: K.S.A. 72-3232 [Community service programs; duties of state board]
- Louisiana: La. R.S. 17:264 [Community service; high school diploma endorsement program]
- Maryland: Md. Code Regs. 13A.03.02.05 [Student Service]
- North Dakota: N.D. Cent. Code § 15.1-21-NEW [unnumbered as yet] [North Dakota scholarship]
- Ohio: Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §3313.605 [Community service education program]
- Oklahoma: Okla. Stat. tit. 70, § 11-108.2 [Secondary educational credit for community service]
- Wisconsin: Wi. Stat. sec. 118.33 [High school graduation standards; criteria for promotion]
The National Association of Scholars, in consultation with other supporters and friends of the Civics Alliance, drafted this list of statutes to repeal to translate into legislative policy the principles in the Civics Alliance’s Civics Curriculum Statement & Open Letter. This list has been drafted with the expectation that not every supporter of the Civics Alliance will endorse this list or every part of it. Individual Civics Alliance signatories and supporters should not be assumed to have endorsed this list, unless they say so explicitly.