New Law Sponsored By Brooks Recognizes Importance Of Civics

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Legislation implementing a new emphasis on civics education in Tennessee was among bills signed into law by Gov. Bill Haslam this week as the state prepares to observe the Memorial Day weekend.

House Bill 2114, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Brooks (R—Cleveland), aims to give students the skills they need to be better informed about the workings of their own government. The law requires civics education to be included in the public school curriculum assessed by Local Educational Agencies. 

The legislation drew praise from retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’ Connor who wrote the sponsors of the law last week saying, “This important legislation will help make sure that every Tennessee student receives the civil learning that is so vital to their becoming an informed and engaged citizen.” The most recent study of the National Assessment of Educational Progress reported that students perform worse in civics and U.S. history than in any other subjects. To counteract this trend, O’Connor has become a staunch advocate of civics education.  

Rep. Brooks stated, “With Memorial Day upon us, it is a special time of remembrance for Americans. It’s a day that sets our nation apart from her peers. It is a time when all of us reflect on the sacrifice made by our service men and women whose selfless courage ensures America is the standard of freedom for the world.”

He added, “With this law, I feel confident more Tennessee students will really understand the unique standing our Creator has given America, the special heritage of our nation, and what it has taken to make our country so great.”  

“I share Justice O’Connor’s deep concern regarding the need for a strong foundation in civics education so students will be fully engaged both as citizens and future leaders,” said Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R—Collierville), who sponsored the Senate version of the law. “The Memorial Day holiday is a stark reminder of those who fought and died for our freedom and right to self-govern. It is important that students know the underpinnings of our U.S. and Tennessee Constitutions and our democratic framework.  It is even more important that they understand how they work together to make life better for those who live under the flag of freedom in this great nation.”   

The legislation passed this year is timely as a result of the state’s recent waiver of the No Child Left Behind law. Both Reps. Brooks and Norris are concerned that if Tennessee does not test civic knowledge and skills, they could become afterthoughts in education, especially in schools where students are at risk of failing the subjects that are tested. The legislative duo say the project-based assessment put into place under the new law, moves away from testing memorization of facts and puts the focus on the academic skills needed for engaging in social issues and governance.    

According to the most recent reports, there are deficiencies in Tennessee’s curriculum, particularly as it effects active, project-based instruction which is the most effective method of learning civics education. This new law calls for engaging students in choosing issues of concern to them, followed by investigative research and development of plans for improving their communities.

Lee’s Celebration 2016 To Be A Community Event

Lee University will host hundreds of guests, alumni, and community leaders on Friday, Sept. 30, for Celebration 2016, planned as a “festive and colorful day” commemorating another two years of university progress.  The event will recognize the success of the five-year “Find Us Faithful” Campaign including the opening of Lee’s new School of Nursing building and further development ... (click for more)

Baylor To Honor 7 During Headmaster's Award Service

Baylor will honor seven members of the school community during the Headmaster's Awards and Memorial Chapel Service on Sunday, Oct. 2, as part of the school’s Alumni Weekend festivities.  The Honorable W. Neil Thomas III (class of 1962) is this year's recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award; Kelly Nation and Leyden Pugh (class of 1985) will receive the John T. ‘Buddy’ ... (click for more)

City May Donate 2 Surplus Patrol Cars To Kevin Muhammad's Nation Of Islam

The city is planning to donate two surplus patrol cars to the Nation of Islam "for its use in community patrols." City officials said the value of the cars is less than $2,000 each. The resolution authorizing the move by the police chief, Fred Fletcher, comes before the City Council on Oct. 4. Rev. Kevin Muhammad, local Nation of Islam leader, recently said the group was ... (click for more)

Woodbury, Tn., Man Charged With Murdering His Brother

An investigation by Special Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has resulted in the arrest of a Cannon County man for the murder of his brother.                                 ... (click for more)

Patrol Cars Donation To Kevin Muhammad's Nation Of Islam Sets A Dangerous Precedent

Re: City Police donating two patrol cars to Kevin Muhammad's Nation of Islam: While I know it's unpopular to mention the wisdom of separation of church and state, this sets a dangerous precedent and should meet with concern from everyone who values religious and secular freedom. What's next? Southern Baptists getting old city parking scooters to patrol church parking lots ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Thanks A Lot For Nothing

Somebody should have gotten an award last Tuesday when a 90-minute “education summit” involving our school leaders, politicians and media produced absolutely nothing. Zilch. Zero. Oh, there are a number of candidates we could give an award for “nothing,” both in our school district and on its fringes. Yet to find Tennessee Commissioner of Education Candice McQueen brought her high-and-mighty ... (click for more)