REPORT TITLE:
Education; Civic Literacy


DESCRIPTION:
Requires high school students to pass a test, as a prerequisite
to graduation from high school, that demonstrates a basic
knowledge of the founding of our country including the
Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the
Federalist Papers.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
                                                        2305
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES                H.B. NO.           
TWENTIETH LEGISLATURE, 2000                                
STATE OF HAWAII                                            
                                                             
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                   A  BILL  FOR  AN  ACT

RELATING TO CIVIC LITERACY.



BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 1      SECTION 1.  Findings and purpose.  The legislature finds
 
 2 that Americans take personal pride in the diversity of their
 
 3 ethnic and cultural backgrounds.  However, as a nation, we
 
 4 possess a singular political heritage based on the principles of
 
 5 life, liberty, justice, and equality of opportunity as defined
 
 6 and expressed in the Declaration of Independence, codified in the
 
 7 U.S. Constitution, and defended in the The Federalist Papers.
 
 8 Thomas Jefferson, recognizing the future need to protect
 
 9 America's political heritage, prescribed a general education for
 
10 all citizens, "to instruct the mass of our citizens in these
 
11 their rights, interests, and duties, as men and citizens".
 
12 However, today, and for too many years, our students have been
 
13 denied the basic education required to develop a command of and
 
14 commitment to the ideals essential to a democratic form of
 
15 government.  The extent of civic illiteracy in America is large
 
16 and growing.  The results of various surveys have confirmed the
 
17 lack, especially among young Americans, of even a basic knowledge
 
18 about our constitution and the structure and function of our
 
19 government.
 

 
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 1      At a time in history when communism and totalitarian rule is
 
 2 diminishing and democracy is flourishing, it is truly ironic that
 
 3 American students lack a fundamental knowledge of our form of
 
 4 self-government.  It may be, if civic illiteracy is unchecked,
 
 5 that each new generation of Americans will understand less than
 
 6 the preceding generation about American principles and
 
 7 institutions, and be less prepared to assume the responsibilities
 
 8 of citizenship and governance.  Until recently, relatively little
 
 9 attention was given to "citizenship education".  However, state
 
10 legislators, the Congress, and other public policy leaders,
 
11 alarmed about the growing evidence of civic illiteracy, have
 
12 acted to bring about the emergence of an important policy
 
13 consensus.  In December, 1987, the Congress adopted a concurrent
 
14 resolution (S. Res. 92) co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Paul Simon
 
15 ~(IL) and Robert Dole (KS) and by U.S. Representatives Linda
 
16 Boggs (LA) and Phil Crane (IL) directing the states to improve
 
17 primary and secondary school curriculums to ensure that students
 
18 possess a thorough knowledge and understanding of the Declaration
 
19 of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Federalist Papers
 
20 as a requirement for graduation from high school.
 
21      In this regard, many states have enacted legislation to
 
22 require the teaching of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S.
 
23 Constitution, and the Federalist Papers during the high school
 

 
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                                     H.B. NO.           
                                                        
                                                        


 1 years.  In addition to these efforts, a number of special
 
 2 academic centers and organizations have been established to
 
 3 promote the teaching of the founding documents.  A leader among
 
 4 the various special academic research centers is the National
 
 5 Center for America's Founding Documents at Boston University.
 
 6 The National Center provides substantive inservice and preservice
 
 7 training for teachers and offers special seminars, institutes,
 
 8 and instructional materials to assist educators with classroom
 
 9 instruction.
 
10      It is important that all citizens, regardless of origin, are
 
11 made aware of our nation's political heritage.  Indeed, the
 
12 future of our democratic institutions may be jeopardized if civic
 
13 illiteracy is permitted to continue unabated.
 
14      The purpose of this Act is to require high school students
 
15 to pass a test, as a prerequisite to graduation from high school,
 
16 that demonstrates a basic knowledge of the founding of our
 
17 country and documents related to that event, including the
 
18 Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the
 
19 Federalist Papers.
 
20      SECTION 2.  Chapter 302A, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is
 
21 amended by adding a new part to be appropriately designated and
 
22 to read as follows:
 
23                    "PART    . CIVIC LITERACY
 

 
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                                     H.B. NO.           
                                                        
                                                        


 1      302A-    Civic Literacy.  This part may be cited as the
 
 2 Civic Literacy Act.
 
 3      302A-    Findings.  The legislature finds that:
 
 4      (1)  The adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776
 
 5           and the signing of the United States Constitution were
 
 6           principal events in the history of the United States,
 
 7           the Declaration of Independence providing the
 
 8           philosophical foundation on which this nation rests and
 
 9           the Constitution of the United States providing its
 
10           structure of government;
 
11      (2)  The Federalist Papers embody the most eloquent and
 
12           forceful argument made in support of the adoption of
 
13           our republican form of government;
 
14      (3)  These documents stand as the foundation of our form of
 
15           democracy providing at the same time the basis of our
 
16           national identity and the vehicle for orderly growth
 
17           and change;
 
18      (4)  Many Americans lack even the most basic knowledge and
 
19           understanding of the history of our nation and the
 
20           principles set forth in the Declaration of
 
21           Independence, codified in the Constitution and defended
 
22           in the Federalist Papers; and
 
23      (5)  The survival of the republic requires that our nation's
 

 
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                                     H.B. NO.           
                                                        
                                                        


 1           children, the future guardians of its heritage and
 
 2           participants in its governance, have a firm knowledge
 
 3           and understanding of its principles and history.
 
 4      302A-    Purpose.  The purposes of this part are:
 
 5      (1)  To require during the high school years the teaching of
 
 6           the nation's founding and related documents, which
 
 7           shall include the Declaration of Independence, the
 
 8           United States Constitution and the Federalist Papers;
 
 9           and
 
10      (2)  To require that before receiving a certificate or
 
11           diploma of graduation from high school, students must
 
12           have been tested on their knowledge of the Declaration
 
13           of Independence, the United States Constitution, and
 
14           the Federalist Papers.
 
15      302A-  Administration.  Beginning July 1, 2002, the
 
16 department of education shall adopt rules pursuant to chapter 91
 
17 to:
 
18      (1)  Include among the requirements for high school
 
19           graduation, a passing grade on a test on the
 
20           Declaration of Independence, the United States
 
21           Constitution, and the Federalist Papers;
 
22      (2)  Include in any standardized state testing of high
 
23           school students, questions on the contents of the
 

 
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                                     H.B. NO.           
                                                        
                                                        


 1           Declaration of Independence, the United States
 
 2           Constitution, and the Federalist Papers; and
 
 3      (3)  Specifically provide for curriculum content and teacher
 
 4           training to ensure that the intent of this part is
 
 5           satisfied.
 
 6      302A-    Reporting.  The department of education shall
 
 7 report to the legislature on the status of this Act no later than
 
 8 twenty days before the convening of the 2001 and 2002 regular
 
 9 legislative sessions."
 
10      SECTION 3.  This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2000.
 
11 
 
12                           INTRODUCED BY:  _______________________