American Heritage Bills to be introduced in Senate

LANSING, Mich.–A set of bills being introduced by Sens. Patrick Colbeck, Mike Kowall and Mike Shirkey will encourage schools to place a focus on the founding principles of our American heritage. The legislation is designed to promote good citizenship, provide students with access to original documentation regarding our nation’s founding and celebrate our heritage during Patriot Week.

Colbeck’s bill, Senate Bill 209, is also referred to as the Good Citizenship bill. It includes language to require the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) to ensure that the K to 12 social studies curriculum is centered upon the founding principles of the United States, including federalism, the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and Michigan’s Constitution.

The bill enhances and clarifies the vital role of our education system to develop good citizens with a thorough understanding of how our system of government is intended to work. The bill ensures that, at the very least, information regarding the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States is tested on the Michigan Assessment Test.

“These bills are designed to help our students understand the unique system of government we have in America and develop a greater appreciation for our nation and its heritage,” said Colbeck, R-Canton. “The legislation seeks to give teachers additional tools with which they can ensure that core principles of our government as captured in the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Michigan Constitution are embedded within our requirements for instruction. This is important as the principles taught today will be the principles used to govern in the future.”

The Patriot Week Bill (SB 210), introduced by Sen. Kowall, is a streamlined version of the Patriot Week resolution that the Michigan Legislature has a history of passing on an annual basis. This bill would secure the observance of Patriot Week in statute. The purpose of Patriot Week is to promote an understanding of American history and America’s first principles, particularly those principles captured in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. It goes further to ensure that we regularly honor the sacrifices of our veterans and those who currently serve in the armed forces to protect these principles.

“This important piece of legislation ensures that children will have appropriate grade-level instruction from third grade until 12th regarding veteran appreciation, first principles, key American principles, founding documents, and important historical events,” said Kowall, R-White Lake. “Patriot week will symbolically begin on Sept. 11 and conclude on Sept. 17.”

Shirkey is introducing the American Heritage Bill (SB 211), which would restrict a school board or school officials from censoring or restraining a teacher’s instruction of our founding documents because of any religious references in their original subject material regarding our American or Michigan history or heritage.

“Our country’s founding documents and the historical context in which they were written is not something that should be subject to revisionist editorials or censorship,” said Shirkey, R-Clarklake. “It’s fitting that we kick off this initiative on the birthday of James Madison, who is often referred to as the ‘Father of our Constitution.’”