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TO AMEND CHAPTER 29, TITLE 59 OF THE 1976 CODE, RELATING TO SUBJECTS OF INSTRUCTION IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS, BY ADDING SECTION 59-29-230, TO PROVIDE THAT THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF ANY STATE SCHOOL DISTRICT MAY OFFER AN ELECTIVE COURSE TEACHING THE HISTORY AND LITERATURE OF THE OLD TESTAMENT ERA AND AN ELECTIVE COURSE TEACHING THE HISTORY AND LITERATURE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT ERA; TO PROVIDE THAT THE COURSES MUST BE TAUGHT IN AN OBJECTIVE MANNER WITH NO ATTEMPT TO INDOCTRINATE STUDENTS; TO PROVIDE THAT THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION MUST DEVELOP AND ADOPT CURRICULA, MATERIALS, AND GUIDELINES FOR THE COURSES; TO PROVIDE FOR OVERSIGHT OF THE CLASSES BY THE LOCAL BOARD OF TRUSTEES, AND TO PROVIDE THAT STUDENTS AND TEACHERS MAY USE VERSIONS OF THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT THAT DIFFER FROM THE VERSIONS RECOMMENDED BY THE LOCAL BOARD OF TRUSTEES.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Chapter 29, Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
"Section 59-29-230. (A)(1) A school district board of trustees may authorize, to be taught in the district's high schools, an elective course concerning the history and literature of the Old Testament era and an elective course concerning the history and literature of the New Testament era.
(2) Each course offered must be taught in an objective manner with no attempt to influence the students as to either the truth or falsity of the materials presented.
(3) Students must be awarded the same number of Carnegie units that are awarded to other classes of similar duration.
(4) A particular version of the Old or New Testament to be used in either course may be recommended by the board of trustees; provided, that the teacher of the course and students enrolled in the course are not required to use that recommended version.
(B) The board of trustees of a district that offers a course pursuant to this section must:
(a) maintain supervision and control of the course;
(b) hire any new teachers that it determines are required to teach the course in the same manner all other teachers are hired;
(c) assure that all teachers teaching the course are certified by the State; and
(d) make no inquiry into the religious beliefs, or the lack of religious beliefs, held by a teacher when determining which teacher shall teach the class.
(C) The State Board of Education shall develop and adopt curricula and materials that must be used and guidelines that must be followed by high schools offering a course pursuant to this section. The curricula, materials, and guidelines developed and adopted must ensure that the courses do not disparage or encourage a commitment to a set of religious beliefs.
(D) The curricula developed and adopted by the board must: (1) be designed to help students gain a greater appreciation of the Old Testament and the New Testament as great works of literature, art, and music; assist students in gaining greater insight into the many historical events recorded in the Old Testament and the New Testament; and provide students with a greater awareness of the many social customs that the Old Testament and the New Testament have significantly influenced; and
(2) provide that the Old Testament is the primary text for the course exploring the history and literature of the Old Testament era and that the New Testament is the primary text for the course exploring the history and literature of the New Testament era.
(E) The curricula developed and adopted may provide that students may be assigned period appropriate secular historical and literary works to supplement the primary text.
(F) The State Board of Education must promulgate the adopted curricula as a regulation under the provisions of Article 3 of Chapter 23 of Title 1, the State Administrative Procedures Act. The curriculum may not be used until the regulation is approved by the General Assembly."
SECTION 2. If any section, subsection, paragraph, subparagraph, sentence, clause, phrase, or word of this act is for any reason held to be unconstitutional or invalid, such holding shall not affect the constitutionality or validity of the remaining portions of this act, the General Assembly hereby declaring that it would have passed this act, and each and every section, subsection, paragraph, subparagraph, sentence, clause, phrase, and word thereof, irrespective of the fact that any one or more other sections, subsections, paragraphs, subparagraphs, sentences, clauses, phrases, or words hereof may be declared to be unconstitutional, invalid, or otherwise ineffective.
SECTION 3. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor. The State Board of Education must develop and adopt the curricula, materials, and guidelines required in SECTION 1 no later than six months after the effective date of this act. The regulation required in subsection (F) must be transmitted to the General Assembly no later than March 1, 2008.
This web page was last updated on Monday, June 22, 2009 at 3:08 P.M.