AUGUSTA  — Gov. Paul LePage has signed into law a bill to ensure that Maine students pass a course in civics and government in order to receive a high school diploma.

LePage signed the bill Friday. He says courses in history, economics, literature and other subjects enhance students’ understanding of government and politics, but they can’t replace sustained, specific attention to civics education.

LePage says courses in civics and government were common in American high schools until the 1960s. He says the new law re-emphasizes the need to educate youth about the core values of what America was built upon.

The bill was sponsored by Democratic Rep. Mary Nelson of Falmouth, who serves on the Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs.