Just when I was about to sit down and write another scathing indictment of the nation’s teachers unions for what by now should be a criminal act of child abuse in keeping huge numbers of our K-12 students out of school, and the cowardly response of their political leaders for being so intimidated, both of which should be roundly condemned, there comes an announcement that is a ray of hope for another education-related pressing need.
The relatively new organization, Roadmap to Educating for American Democracy, has announced a project developed over a 19-month collaboration among more than 300 scholars, educators, practitioners and students from diverse backgrounds, the ambition for which is to re-establish civics and American history as essential components of education and national unity. According to the release and an op/ed signed by six former secretaries of education, the Roadmap aims to renew the study of history and to rebuild civic education in America from the ground up, by providing guiding principles for states, local school districts and educators across the U. S. They note that we now spend about 1,000 times more per student on science, technology, engineering, and math education than we do on history and civics and, as a result, the skills of participation as citizens and the knowledge that sustains it have been sorely neglected over the past half century, much to our detriment.
Finally, at long last here are some leaders taking note of the serious deterioration of our skills, knowledge, and temperament necessary for the sustenance of our republic. They are quick to explain that the principles they will promote are intended as guidelines, while local districts can establish their own standards and tailor curricular materials to their local communities, which is as it should be. But, as for most new proposals, the “devil is in the details”, so it will be instructive to see what will result from the curricular development phase of the project as it proceeds. I can only say that I know a few of the signers of the release and advisors and trust them implicitly to monitor this process, which for me would start with the establishment of the founding documents–the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Federalist Papers–as the curricular foundation, and that recent nonsense such as The 1619 Project will be completely rejected. So we shall see, but meanwhile let’s congratulate the Roadmap for its leadership and wish them well.