The values of liberty and equality that we as Americans hold so dear were truly revolutionary at our nation’s birth. At that time, no other country endorsed the ideas of individual freedom and democracy. To ensure this legacy continued, our founding fathers enshrined these unique virtues in the U.S. Constitution, a timeless manuscript that still serves as the backbone of the United States government today.

Beginning with the U.S. Constitution, important historical documents have laid the path that our government has followed throughout American history. Without written pronouncements like the Northwest Ordinance or documents such as our state constitutions, our nation would not have become the bastion of democracy that so many admire worldwide. This history is a legacy that should be lauded by the public and passed down to our children.

For these very reasons, I strongly supported Senate Bill 165 as it made its way through the General Assembly. Signed into law by Governor Kasich at the end of March, this legislation requires the State Board of Education to add instruction on the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. and Ohio Constitutions and the Northwest Ordinance into the state social studies curriculum. In addition, students will take achievement tests to assess their knowledge and understanding of this subject matter.

At a time when the true foundation of our government can become obscured in political back-and-forth, our youth more than ever needs to be taught the basics of American democracy. This legacy is best taught through the study of our most enduring historical documents. As United States citizens, we enjoy a standard of freedom unrivaled by any other country. To properly exercise this hard-won liberty, our children need to understand its significance in the context of U.S. history. This education may start in the home, but it needs to be reinforced in the classroom to ensure that all students are exposed to the material.

Working in state government, I know first-hand the value of an education that includes these historical documents. However, you do not need to be directly involved in government to benefit from a working knowledge of the Declaration of Independence or the Ohio Constitution. We can only exercise our freedoms and pass them on to the next generation if we can recognize their significance ourselves. These new social studies standards will ensure that Ohio’s youth will have the knowledge to be engaged citizens, now and in the future.


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