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Arizona high school graduation will be tied to learning about 'evils' of communism

High school students in Arizona will soon have to learn how communism and totalitarianism conflict with the American “principles of freedom and democracy” before they can graduate.  

House Bill 2008, signed into law Friday by Gov. Doug Ducey, directs the State Board of Education to update its high school social studies academic standards to include a “comparative discussion of political ideologies, such as communism and totalitarianism, that conflict with the principals of freedom and democracy that are essential to the founding principles of the United States of America.”

The bill’s sponsor, Prescott Valley Republican Rep. Quang Nguyen, fled communist Vietnam as a child and cited his upbringing in the country as a major factor in pushing the change to high school curriculum. 

“Having grown up in Vietnam and survived three communist invasions, I have a deep love and appreciation for the United States and its freedoms, which are guaranteed to all,” Nguyen said in a press release on the bill’s signing. “This civics standards update will help ensure that our students are taught the brutal facts of oppressive communist systems and how they are fundamentally antithetical to America’s founding principles.”

The bill is similar to a bill passed in Florida last year that was among a litany of other bills in the Sunshine State targeting socialism, communism and civic literacy. Nguyen pushed similar legislation last year, but it failed to win enough support to become law. 

The new requirements won’t affect students right away: The standards will have to first be developed by the State Board of Education, which will give parents and the public the opportunity to weigh in. 

When the House first took up the bill in February, Nguyen said he had spoken with the State Board of Education about how the standards could be implemented, though he admitted he had not looked at what the current social studies standards currently are. 

The bill also creates an oral history library to be used for civic education called “portraits in patriotism” that would be “based on first-person accounts of victims of other nations’ governing philosophies who can compare those philosophies with those of the United States.”

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This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.

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A statue of Vladimir Lenin near Weimar, Germany, is covered in graffiti in this 2009 picture.