Public Law 195

A question has been asked about Illinois “Public Law 195.” According to the MVCC ABE/GED/ESL web site (the indirect source of the question) and a number of other educational web sites (Google the terms: Illinois “public law 195” and you’ll find them), this is the law that mandates the “Illinois State Constitution Exam.”

Unfortunately, the term/phrase “Public Law 195” does not provide enough information to track down an Illinois law, according to the reference services of the Depaul University Law Library, (312) 362-6894. When the Illinois General Assembly passes a bill it becomes a “Public Act,” not a “Public Law.” According to the Illinois State Library’s Reference Department: “Beginning with the 76th General Assembly (1969-70), The Illinois Secretary of State’s office began assigning bills that become law Public Act numbers. For example, P.A. 81-959 was the 959th Public Act of the 81st General Assembly. Before the 76th General Assembly, laws are cited using the year and the page reference to the Laws of Illinois (i.e. L. 1961, p. 31).” So, without a G.A. session number, a Public Act cannot be identified. More information about the legislative process in Illinois is available from the Legislative Reference Bureau at http://www.legis.state.il.us/commission/lrb_home.html.

However, a “Constitution” test requirement appears in Illinois Compiled Statutes 105 ILCS 5/27-3 under the title “Patriotism and principles of representative government – Proper use of flag – Method of voting – Pledge of Allegiance” with the language: “No student shall receive a certificate of graduation without passing a satisfactory examination upon such subjects.” This section cites “Laws, 1961, P. 31, ? 27-3, eff. July 1, 1966” as its source. Another requirement appears in 105 ILCS 5/27-21 under the title “History of United States” with the language: “No pupils shall be graduated from the eighth grade of any public school unless he [sic] has received such instruction in the history of the United States and gives evidence of having a comprehensive knowledge thereof.” This section sites “Laws, 1961, P. 31, ? 27-21, eff. July 1, 1961.” Note that in both instances the cited law predates the 76th General Assembly, which began the practice of assigning Public Act numbers. The Compiled Statutes are in the Library’s reference collection, call number REF KFI1230 .I44.

A test requirement appears in the Illinois Administrative Code under Title 23 (Education and cultural resources) Chapter 1 (State board of education) Part 1 (Public schools evaluation, recognition and supervision) sections:
? 1.430 (Additional criteria for elementary schools) paragraph b with the language: “No student shall receive certification of graduation without passing a satisfactory examination upon such subjects.”
? 1.440 (Additional criteria for high schools) paragraph f sub-paragraph 4 with the language: “No student shall receive certification of graduation without passing a satisfactory examination upon such subjects.”

Note that this information was confirmed by a researcher at the Illinois Board of Higher Education, (217) 782-2881.

So, back to the term “Public Law 195.” It is possible that it has become a commonly accepted name for the statutes and Administrative Code listed above, but as it stands, is an incomplete reference at best.