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Bill: Teach that U.S. is a republic, not a pure democracy

Published February 3, 2011 7:59 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Some lawmakers want to make sure schools teach students that the United States is a constitutional republic, not a pure democracy.

The House Education Committee advanced a bill, HB220, on Thursday that would require schools to teach students that the U.S. is a constitutional republic and about other forms of government such as democracy, monarchy, oligarchy and socialism.

"I see kids that aren't getting the right impression or instruction on what our form of government is," said bill sponsor Rep. Michael Morley, R-Spanish Fork. "They come out with the thought ... that we rule by majority and they don't recognize that a democracy can be tyrannical but that our form of government is a republic."

The committee approved the bill over the objections of some speakers and lawmakers who said it's not the Legislature's role to tell schools what to teach.

"We have school boards, we have teachers, we have curriculum specialists," said Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek. "Where does it end? Am I going to tell them that we need to have certain books read in the English class because I think it's my favorite book?"

Peggy Jo Kennett, with the Utah School Boards Association and Utah School Superintendents Association, said those groups believe the bill is unnecessary because those concepts are already being taught.

Morley and other lawmakers, however, said it's one of the most important concepts schools can teach and it's the Legislature's responsibility to make sure it reaches students. In recent months, a group of Alpine District parents have been protesting the district's mission statement, saying it inaccurately describes the U.S. government as a democracy, but Morley said his bill was not spurred by that situation.

The committee approved the bill 7-4, and it now moves to the House floor.