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West Virginia Legislation Would Criminalize Teaching Social Problems First

Russell Mokhiber

Attention West Virginia civics teachers.

Legislation was introduced this week in the West Virginia House of Delegates (HB 2107) that would prohibit the teaching of “social problems, economics, foreign affairs, the United Nations, world government, socialism or communism until basic courses in American state and local geography and history are completed.”

And if the teacher teaches “social problems” first?

He or she will be charged with a misdemeanor crime and fined.

And then fired.

The bill was introduced by Delegates John Overington (R-Berkeley), Geoff Foster (R-Putnam), Eric Householder (R-Berkeley), Kelli Sobonya (R-Cabell), Michel Moffat (R-Putnam), Ruth Rowan (R-Hampshire), Cindy Frich (R-Monogalia) and Jim Butler (R-Mason).

The legislation requires one and a half years of study in the history of the United States and the founding documents of the country, including “the study of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States with an emphasis on the Bill of Rights, using the historical, political and social environments surrounding each document at the time of its initial passage or ratification and shall include the study of historical documents such as the Federalist Papers and the Anti-Federalist Papers to firmly establish the historical background leading to the establishment of the provisions of the Constitution and Bill of Rights by the founding fathers for the purposes of safeguarding our Constitutional republic.”

That must be taught first.

The bill makes clear that “before students may participate in secondary level courses involving the study of social problems, global economics, foreign affairs, the United Nations, world government, socialism or communism, pupils shall first have completed basic instruction in geography, United States history, United States government and the government of the State of West Virginia, local governments in West Virginia, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitutions of the United States and the State of West Virginia.”

What if the study of the history of the United States involves the study of social problems, like slavery?

Is the teacher charged with a crime?

What if the study of the U.S. history involves the study of global economics?

Will the teacher be fired?

What if the study of U.S. history involves the study of a U.S. president, Woodrow Wilson, who first proposed the League of Nations?

Will the teacher be dragged out of school?

If you do mention social problems before you mention the founding documents, what, pray tell, are the penalties?

Let us go to the legislation.

“Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not exceeding $10 for each violation, and each week during which there is a violation shall constitute a separate offense.”

“If the person so convicted occupy a position in connection with the public schools, that person shall automatically be removed from that position and shall be ineligible for reappointment to that or a similar position for the period of one year.”

What if the civics teacher teaches McCarthyism before Federalism?

Goodbye civics teacher.

Hello Joe McCarthy.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Russell Mokhiber

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter.  He is also founder of, and editor of the website Morgan County USA.

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