CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A bill that would require 8th graders be taught about the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights during a designated “Celebrate Freedom Week” easily passed the House of Delegates during a long floor debate Wednesday.
The bill (HB 3080) says “Celebrate Freedom Week” would take place during the week which Sept. 11 falls every year with a goal to “educate students about the sacrifices made for freedom in the founding of this country and the values on which this country was founded.”
Delegates argued during a floor debate about whether teachers should be mandated to teach certain subjects in a certain way.
“There’s a lot of pain that goes with this when you think about not letting teachers teach,” Delegate Larry Rowe (D-Kanawha) said. “We, as a body, institutionally cannot pull our fingers away from the neck of teachers and county boards of education.”
Rowe said he was originally against the bill but changed his mind when he heard the personal stories from several other delegates about loved ones who died in the service of the country.
Delegate Brent Boggs (D-Braxton) shared one of those stories and concluded.
“It’s (teaching the Constitution) so fundamental for respect for our nation, for teaching our kids and future generations,” Boggs said.
Delegate John O’Neal (R-Raleigh) reminded delegates of the staunch support former U.S. Senator Robert Byrd had for the Constitution during his life and service.
“He would reach into his pocket and pull out a copy of the United States Constitution whenever he thought a president was maybe neglecting some important principles being addressed related to the Constitution,” O’Neal said.
There is currently a Constitution Day recognized each fall in all public schools across the U.S. that receive federal funding. A measure that was pushed by Byrd.
The bill passed 97-3 by the House Wednesday would require “an in-depth study of the intent, meaning and importance of the Declaration of 61 Independence and the Constitution of the United States with an emphasis on the Bill of Rights.”
The lead sponsor of the bill is House of Delegates Speaker Tim Armstead (R-Kanawha).
The bill now heads to the state Senate.