PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey has signed legislation revising Arizona's academic standards to include discussions on political ideologies that "conflict with the principles of freedom and democracy."
House Bill 2008 obligates the Arizona Board of Education to update its high school curriculum standards to include lessons on the "original intent of the United States' founding documents" and "defending the blessings of liberty inherited from prior generations and secured by the United States Constitution."
The board must also create a list of oral history resources that provide "portraits of patriotism" and offer first-person accounts of victims of other nations' governing philosophies.
The bill's language specifically mentions communism and totalitarianism as the types of political ideologies that conflict with America's principles.
The governor said the bill will help students form a "deeper understanding" of the freedoms and rights guaranteed to Americans.
Arizona state Rep. Quang Nguyen, R-District 1, introduced the bill and said during a committee meeting that it's important for students to hear the stories of those who have been victimized by communism.
The bill passed through the Arizona Legislature with little support from Democrats.
Arizona Sen. Christine Marsh, D-District 28, said HB 2008 creates mandates that "already exist" and attempts to micromanage regulatory boards that review Arizona's academic standards.
"I am adamantly opposed to tying the hands of the standards review committee," Marsh said before voting against the bill. "By forcing some aspects of curriculum to be in place, I think is a mistake. I don't think the Legislature should be dictating curriculum."
According to the Arizona Department of Education's existing social studies standards, one of the state's core disciplines is the "knowledge of the history, principles, and foundations of our Constitutional Republic and that each person has both human and civil rights."
Ducey has repeatedly prioritized civics education throughout his time in office.
In 2015, the governor signed a bill that established a statewide civics exam every high school student in Arizona must pass in order to graduate.
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