In 2011, North Carolina enacted an education bill into law that was drafted by the Koch-brother’s favorite bill mill, the American Legislative Exchange Council, i.e. ALEC. What educators didn’t expect was that the educational materials would be outsourced — to a group owned and funded by the Koch brothers — who also give heaps of money to sponsor ALEC draft legislation every year.
A bipartisan General Assembly approved House Bill 588, The Founding Principles Act, during the closing days of the 2011 legislative session. The law sounded simple on its surface — it added an educational requirement that public high schools teach the nation’s “founding principles” and created a new class geared toward the fundamentals. The law made completion of a semester long course on the beginning years of our nation a graduation requirement for all high school students. Legislators were worried that our nation’s early history was being written out of textbooks and classes, so they thought for sure, the bill would prevent that from happening:
The law specifically orders a semester-long course titled American History I – The Founding Principles. Students must pass the course to graduate from high school.
“Ten specific principles earn special attention within the legislation: Creator-endowed inalienable rights of the people; the structure of government, separation of powers with checks and balances; frequent and free elections in a representative government; rule of law; equal justice under the law; private property rights; federalism; due process; individual rights as set forth in the Bill of Rights; and individual responsibility.”
The content of the curriculum should have been easy to create – what high school isn’t prepared to procure or create curriculum based on our founding principles? But when crafting materials to meet the requirements, the state’s Department of Education chose the Koch-owned Bill of Rights Foundation to develop course materials —with a payment of 100k for the sole-source contract –– and is considering a proposal to strongly suggest that all school districts use these materials to fulfill the course requirements.
According to Nonprofit Quarterly, June Atkinson, state school superintendent, believed that the think tank was their only choice:
..the state looked for groups that could help write the founding principles curriculum but found only the Bill of Rights Institute. The institute collaborated with state educators, Atkinson said, and they requested feedback from teachers, who reviewed the work and suggested changes.
Educators, however, are crying foul:
But history teachers said in interviews Wednesday that they already have a wealth of resources available for teaching the founding principles. Some said it was not appropriate for a Koch-connected group to write public school course materials, and none knew that the state had hired the institute to develop a curriculum.