State high school social studies teachers would be encouraged to use curriculum materials prepared by an institute funded by the conservative Koch family, under a proposal the Department of Public Instruction presented Wednesday.

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The Bill of Rights Institute, based in Virginia, had a $100,000, sole-source contract with the state to help develop materials for teachers to use in a course on founding principles that the state requires students to take. The institute was founded in 1999 and receives grants from David H. Koch, the Charles Koch Foundation, and the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation, according to a website on Koch family philanthropies.

The state Department of Public Instruction decision to “highly recommend” that school districts use the Bill of Rights Institute material comes as the state is embroiled in a controversy over teaching history – whether schools have students study the founding principles as the law requires, whether AP U.S. History meets those requirements and whether the college-level course developed by the College Board has a liberal bias.

It is unusual for the Department of Public Instruction to tell school districts how to teach a course. Typically, the state sets out goals for grades or courses and lets the districts and teachers decide how to meet them. The state does point teachers to a variety of available resources.

 

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