- Associated Press - Thursday, January 8, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina’s education agency will encourage teachers to draw their American history course materials from nearly a dozen sources, not just those provided by a group backed by the politically influential, conservative Koch family.

The state school board on Thursday approved a state Department of Public Instruction document expanding recommended sources for the history course beyond material from the Bill of Rights Institute. The institute gets funding from David Koch, his brother Charles Koch’s foundation and a family foundation. The Kochs are major donors to tea party and libertarian groups.

The Arlington, Virginia-based institute received a $100,000 state contract to develop course materials and videos highlighting the American founding principles taught in a civics and economics course usually taught in 9th and 10th grades, state schools superintendent June Atkinson said.

Even though the institute was listed as a sole source for the teaching resources at last month’s state Board of Education meeting, teachers were always free to draw from other sources, she said.

“The big idea is that teachers are the people in our state charged with selecting materials to teach the standards,” Atkinson said.

The state education agency is now encouraging teachers to pull materials on America’s founding principles from sources that also include the National Humanities Center, the Library of Congress and the state Bar Association.

Starting with the next academic year, teachers will be directed to devote at least half of the content of the civics and economics course to instruction of the country’s founding principles.

A 2011 state law directs schools to teach the concepts behind the founding of the U.S., including the due process of law, individual rights and responsibilities, and Creator-endowed inalienable rights. The law was inspired by legislation promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group backed by major corporations.

Some history teachers and liberals had scoured the Bill of Rights Institute’s material looking for conservative bias, while conservatives on the state school board have complained about perceived liberal bias in a course preparing students for the national Advanced Placement test in American history.

The Republican National Committee in August blasted the new AP U.S. History test framework as reflecting “a radically revisionist view of American history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation’s history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects.”

The state school board also approved 11 new charter schools to open in August, adding to the nearly 150 already operating statewide. Charter schools are run by independent boards rather than the local school district and have much more flexibility in focus, hiring and student experience.

The state board also accepted the end of an effort to open Providence Charter High School in Rockingham County. The proposed charter school’s board failed to find financing and a site for its school building, state officials said.

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Emery Dalesio can be reached at https://twitter.com/emerydalesio .


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