Bill mandating North Carolina colleges to take US studies class to graduate approved by state House

Future North Carolina public university and community college students would have to take a U.S. history or government class to graduate under legislation advancing at the state House.

Currently high school students must pass a civics course called “Founding Principles.”

Bill sponsors told an education committee on Thursday that a required higher education class would go into more depth and help address what they consider a lack of knowledge about the country’s government and essentials.

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“If we do not teach our children what this country is, what it was, its imperfections, its advances … we will not continue as a country,” said Rep. Keith Kidwell, a Beaufort County Republican, said before a voice vote to recommend (the measure setting the three credit-hour requirement.

The legislation would require class participants to read several historical documents, including the U.S. Constitution, the Emancipation Proclamation, certain essays from The Federalist Papers and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

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The legislation includes enforcement language such that the University of North Carolina Board of Governors or the State Board of Community Colleges could remove the top leader at campuses where the mandate isn’t carried out over more than one academic year.

The bill passed the committee after a robust debate. Rep. Ashton Clemmons, a Guilford County Democrat, said she was concerned about placing the mandate upon community college students who often are paying for classes needed for quick training in the job market.

The measure, which needs one more affirmative committee vote before going to the House floor, would apply to first-year students in the 2024-2025 school year seeking a bachelor’s degree or associate degree. Students could be exempted who earned a passing score on a corresponding Advanced Placement test, for example.