Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

There are less than 72 hours left in this Mid-Year Campaign and our independent journalism needs your help today.
If you value our work, please support Common Dreams. This is our hour of need.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

(Photo: Melinda Shelton/cc/flickr)

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surrounding each document at the time of its initial passage or ratification and shall include the study of historical documents such as the Federalist Papers and the Anti-Federalist Papers to firmly establish the historical background leading to the establishment of the provisions of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

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

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Naomi Klein: The US Is in the Midst of a 'Shock-and-Awe Judicial Coup'

"The rolling judicial coup coming from this court is by no means over," warned the author of "The Shock Doctrine."

Jake Johnson ·


Markey, Bowman Join Climate Coalition in Urging SCOTUS Expansion

"We cannot sit idly by," said Markey, "as extremists on the Supreme Court eviscerate the authorities that the government has had for decades to combat climate change and reduce pollution."

Brett Wilkins ·


Ocasio-Cortez Says US 'Witnessing a Judicial Coup in Process'

"It is our duty to check the Court's gross overreach of power in violating people's inalienable rights and seizing for itself the powers of Congress and the president."

Brett Wilkins ·


Critics Say Biden Drilling Bonanza 'Won't Lower Gas Prices' But 'Will Worsen Climate Crisis'

"President Biden's massive public lands giveaway in the face of utter climate catastrophe is just the latest sign that his climate commitments are mere rhetoric," said one campaigner.

Kenny Stancil ·


Grave Warnings as Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case That Threatens 'Future of Voting Rights'

"Buckle up," implores one prominent legal scholar. "An extreme decision here could fundamentally alter the balance of power in setting election rules in the states and provide a path for great threats to elections."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo