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Why Does High School Civics And Economics Have A New Name?

Flickr/Seth Sawyers

High school students in North Carolina will no longer take "Civics and Economics" next year. Instead, they’ll take a course called "American History: The Founding Principles, Civics, and Economics."  Confused?

Three years ago, state lawmakers passed a law requiring students to take a course that includes topics like due process, federalism, and inalienable rights. That's standard fare for civics and American History courses. 

The law said the course had to include the phrase “The Founding Principles.” So the state board of education tacked it onto the end of its American History course. Students had to take that course, unless they chose to take Advanced Placement U.S. History.

That worked out fine until the College Board introduced a new AP U.S. History course this year.  Critics say it doesn’t emphasize central documents like the Constitution or ideas like federalism. 

There were concerns those students taking the AP course would not study those things. But the Department of Public Instruction says that’s not true and that it's a part of their studies since fourth grade and the civics and economics course covers everything laid out in the Founding Principles law. 

So the North Carolina Board of Education decided to add the phrase Founding Principles to the required Civics and Economics course.