Legislation proposed last month by three members of the South Carolina legislature would require public school teachers in that state to spend three weeks each year extolling the virtues of the Second Amendment — as that amendment is understood by the National Rifle Association. The bill requires all South Carolina public schools to “provide instruction in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution for at least three consecutive weeks during one grading period in each academic year.” Moreover, “the State Superintendent of Education shall adopt a curriculum developed or recommended by the National Rifle Association or its successor organization.”
Three weeks is an absolutely extraordinary amount of instruction time to devote to such a narrow subject, at least at the elementary or secondary school level, even setting aside the political nature of the material. Many high school history teachers publish their course syllabi online, and a ThinkProgress review of Advanced Placement United States History syllabi reveals that teachers typically spend far less than three weeks teaching pivotal events or major aspects of American history.
One South Carolina charter school, for example, devotes just two weeks to “The Slave System and the Coming of the Civil War” and only a week and a half to World War II in its Advanced Placement United States History course. A Maine private school devotes two weeks to “Slavery and Sectionalism” and another two weeks to “World War II and the Origins of the Cold War.” A Kentucky high school devotes only two weeks to the “Roaring 20’s, Great Depression and New Deal,” a period that thrust America into an historic crisis and transformed the nation’s view of the role of government in society.
Nevertheless, the South Carolina bill does not simply require schools to spend more time teaching students the NRA’s view of gun rights than many advanced high school courses spend teaching about subjects such as slavery or World War II; it requires this course to be taught at the elementary, middle and high school level.