Columbus - 
According to a 2011 study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Ohio's high school history curriculum is getting a "D." The study found that there is "little American history content or educational rigor in Ohio's standards," and that "specific events and people are all but absent." With standards like these, Ohio and many other states have been shortchanging our children. We are failing to teach students the essential building blocks of American history and government. The results are stunning. When Newsweek asked 1,000 people to take the United States Citizenship Test last year, 38 percent of them failed. Only 35 percent knew what happened at the Constitutional Convention. Only 6 percent of respondents knew how many amendments there are to the Constitution, and less than 1-in-5 could name a single power of the federal government. Findings like those prompted me to introduce Senate Bill 165 last year. This legislation, the Founding Documents Bill, incorporates the study of certain historically significant documents into Ohio's American history and government curricula. These documents include the Declaration of Independence; the United States Constitution; the Northwest Ordinance, and the Ohio Constitution. The goal of Senate Bill 165 is simple: to provide students with an in-depth study of the documents that form the backbone of our government and our political philosophy. The bill brings Ohio back to the basics of American history, and ensures that students will have a strong foundation on which to build. As the Columbus Dispatch recently noted, study of the documents themselves - rather than summaries - "offers a more rigorous challenge to students and allows them to consider the ideas without any ideological filter." The legislature worked closely with the State Board of Education and the Ohio Department of Education in fashioning this bill. Under Senate Bill 165, students will read the Founding Documents in their original historical context. They will then be tested on their knowledge of those documents as part of the state exams on American history and American government. Including these topics in the model curricula and achievement assessments ensures that students will get the in-depth treatment that is lacking from our current state standards. Studying the Founding Documents will help ensure that all Ohioans are adequately prepared for their role in democratic self-governance as adults. Students will gain a better understanding of our federal and state governments, and they will more fully understand their rights as citizens. In fact, the Founding Documents Bill places specific emphasis on the Bill of Rights. Senate Bill 165 was signed into law by the Governor this spring and will take effect before the next school year begins. In the coming years, we hope to build off this success and include more rigor in Ohio's model curriculum. As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if you have questions, concerns, or ideas about any issue facing Ohio. I can be reached by phone at (614) 466-7505, or by e-mail at You may also reach me by mail at State Senator Larry Obhof, 1 Capitol Square, 1st Floor, Columbus, OH 43215.
State Senator Larry Obhof represents the 22nd Ohio Senate District, which encompasses Medina, Holmes and Wayne counties and portions of Ashland County. For more information, please visit
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