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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: December 9, 2016 04:39 PM
From: Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf
To: All Senate members
Subject: Historical Documents: Use in Classroom and Censorship Prohibited
I am reintroducing Senate Bill 176, legislation that would create a new section in the Public School Code to ensure that teachers have the ability to use or post historically significant documents during instruction in a public school building, classroom or event.

The measure would allow documents or portions of documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitutions of Pennsylvania and the United States; Acts of the Pennsylvania General Assembly and of the United States Congress, etc. to be used, read or posted in their entirety regardless of whether such documents contain religious references. The proposal prohibits censorship of an American or Pennsylvania historical document based on any religious content.

These documents shall be utilized for educational purposes only and cannot be used, read from or posted for the purpose of promoting or establishing any religion. Finally, the legislation would require the Department of Education to distribute a copy of this act to each board of school directors so that all public school teachers are made aware of the provisions.

Studies have shown that our students lack knowledge of American History. In order for our children, who represent the future of our nation, to have a full and accurate understanding of the principles of American Freedom, we need to ensure that they have access to original historical documents and the Founders’ writings. This bill would accomplish that by enabling teachers to use, read or post these documents in the classroom without censorship thus helping our children gain a better understanding of American History. Local school officials throughout the United States are being challenged or threatened with lawsuits if they do not remove these documents with religious references. This measure would help to prevent any such censorship. President Woodrow Wilson stated that “A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do. We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about.”

This measure is supported by the Pennsylvania Family Institute. At least seven states (i.e., West Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and Minnesota) have enacted similar laws.

Introduced as SB88