Under the Dome

NC House panel rejects ‘gold standard’ curriculum for high schoolers

East Wake High School history teacher Janine Dube speaks to students during an open house event in 2014. An N.C. House bill would tweak the “founding principles” that high school history classes must include.
East Wake High School history teacher Janine Dube speaks to students during an open house event in 2014. An N.C. House bill would tweak the “founding principles” that high school history classes must include. mhankerson@newsobserver.com

An N.C. House committee decided Monday to leave the gold standard for currency out of proposed additions to the state’s high school history curriculum.

In Senate Bill 524, Republican Rep. Paul Stam of Apex wants to tweak the “Founding Principles” of the country that U.S. history teachers must teach. Stam included the topic “money with intrinsic value” in the new required topics, prompting questions from other legislators.

“It seems like the debate about money with intrinsic value goes back to the gold standard,” said Rep. Darren Jackson, a Knightdale Democrat.

The federal government abandoned the gold standard – in which currency is backed by gold – in the 1930s, although some conservatives have sought to restore it.

Stam said he intended for the “intrinsic value” phrase to prompt classroom instruction on how “only the federal government may print currency and coins. ... That helps us with sound money.

“It could be things other than gold, but it goes back to that same debate,” Stam added.

Jackson’s amendment to kill the “money with intrinsic value” requirement passed on a voice vote. “I think you’ll find that to be taught in business schools across America and not in high schools,” he said.

The rest of Stam’s proposal passed the committee and was approved by the full House in a 104-6 vote Monday night.

The other additions to the curriculum requirements include “strong defense and supremacy of civil authority over military,” and “peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.” Also, high school students would be taught about “constitutional limitations on government power to tax and spend and prompt payment of public debt.”

The last provision refers to the state constitution, as the federal government doesn’t have debt limits. “What they would have to teach here is state constitutional limitations, and they could also explain that there isn’t anything in the U.S. constitution,” Stam said.

Stam also removed a requirement that teachers discuss “eternal vigilance by ‘We the People.’”

“I thought it was a little vague and a little loosey-goosey for a statute,” he said.

Colin Campbell: 919-829-4698, @RaleighReporter

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