North Carolina Legislature Insults State's Students and Teachers with "Heritage Act"Roundup
tags: North Carolina, teaching history
Kathleen DuVal is a U.S. History professor at UNC-Chapel Hill. She has been teaching early American history there for 20 years.
I am a U.S. History professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. I teach the Declaration of Independence in my classes. I require my students to read it, along with the U.S. Constitution.
I teach them about Alexander Hamilton’s and James Madison’s arguments for the Constitution in the Federalist Papers. I lecture on Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, on the Emancipation Proclamation, and on North Carolina’s state constitutions. I believe that these documents are fundamental to understanding American history and that learning how the U.S. government works is essential to being a good citizen in our democracy. I tell my students that too.
Therefore it’s the word “Reclaiming” in the title of N.C. House Bill 96 that I find most objectionable about the bill.
As proposed, the NC REACH Act requires completion of a course in American government to get a bachelor’s degree from the UNC System or an associate’s degree from a community college. By law, that course would include reading and being tested on specific documents from U.S. and North Carolina history.
NC REACH stands for “Reclaiming College Education on America’s Constitutional Heritage,” but the idea that the Constitution needs to be reclaimed in college education is false. At UNC system schools, we count on our students already knowing the basics of American government and our founding documents. Every North Carolina senior is required to pass the high school course “Founding Principles of the United States of America and North Carolina: Civic Literacy,” in addition to civics units in earlier K-12 years also required by the state.