Monday, October 23, 2006

What Schools Teach About American History

Do your college kids know more about Rigoberta Menchu than Patrick Henry? Have they read more Marx and Engels than Locke and Hume? Are they asked to share stories of phallo-logo-centric abuse in required courses, but can’t explain the Bill of Rights? Is their idea of “democracy” populist rebellions and land reforms, or based on the Constitution and private property?

Of course, one could argue that Civics 101 is the responsibility of our ailing public school system. Students should enter college well-armed, and have their understanding augmented by higher education. If they’re arriving as civic ignoramuses and leaving even worse off, then pragmatics must surely confront high school administrators — just as they would if kids arrived never having read Shakespeare nor learned the Pythagorean Theorem.

Students who are poorly armed with civic understanding become either apathetic rubes or victims of the latest idealist fancies. Politicians with vacuous promises or black-robed activists will come along and subvert Constitutional protections our collegiate generation never even knew they had.

In five years, students-turned-money-making professionals benefitting from our market economy will nevertheless fall for fantastic claims about government manipulation of gas prices by the president because they’ve never had to draw a demand curve. Millions will line up behind partisans fighting over territory that belongs to neither, such as private rights to property. If today’s college students don’t know that life, liberty and property are fundamental to our national identity, won’t these be up for grabs too?

Is America losing its religion?

Max Borders


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