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.
Danny Billingsley says
Jim how did we get to this point of not teachingh history and civics in grade schools?
Steve Tredennick says
The answer to Mr. Billingsley reminds me of the allegory about Dr. Ben Franklin, when walking out of Independence Hall after the Constitutional Convention in 1787, and someone shouted out, “Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?”
To which Franklin supposedly responded, with a rejoinder at once witty and ominous: “A republic, if you can keep it.”
So goeth the great idea of a well rounded public education for all of our good American youth. Follow the money, follow the quest for power and you will find the answer — but it won’t be pretty because we will find ourselves staring at an awful truth that this shift was going on incrementally right before our eyes and we were too blind to see and to lazy or afraid to act.
Ann McCulloch says
So glad to see this light in the darkness, Jim
Jim Windham says
We look for any positive signs, Ann, but our kids are being damaged; we’ve got to get these schools open.