“On the diffusion of education among the people rest the preservation and perpetuation of our free institutions.” – Daniel Webster, Statesman (1782-1852)
“Learning is not attained by chance. It must be sought for with ardor and diligence.” – Abigail Adams, former First Lady (1744-1818)
“A well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people.”- James Madison, 4th President of the United States (1751-1836)
The quotes above indicate the importance that some of those in the early days of our Republic placed on the necessity of an educated population. It was their belief that maintaining a free nation depended upon the people being knowledgeable of and engaged in their government. Knowing that fact makes the recent news coming from the Department of Education not so good, as the USA celebrates her 235th birthday.
As it turns out, not only would a good majority of students not know who the people quoted above were, they don’t seem to know the basics of American history. The National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the nation’s report card, found that most students wouldn’t be able to pass the basic civics test taken by immigrants before becoming citizens.
Only 32 percent of the 8th graders tested in US history were able to identify one advantage American troops had over the British in the American Revolution. Even worse than that- just 9 percent of the 4th graders knew who Abraham Lincoln was when shown his photograph, and were able to give two reasons for his importance to the nation. They also struggled with knowing what our original founding document, the Declaration of Independence, is and what it means.
It certainly isn’t their fault that their heritage is being stripped from them in the name of political correctness. Let’s start with this day we celebrate this weekend. It was once rightfully called Independence Day, but it’s now most commonly referred to as the Fourth of July. They’ve grown up knowing that it’s another day off from work for their parents, and they get to eat burgers and watch fireworks. The celebration of the Independence part of Independence Day has largely been scrapped from the collective memory of our society.
Many public schools have long ago given up teaching in any depth about the founding documents because they don’t want to “offend” anyone. After all, even the relatively brief Declaration refers to God four times! It’s now becoming fashionable to eliminate the colonial period and revolutionary war era in teaching American history. For example, Florida’s Board of Education approved their new standards that will have American history education for grades 9-12 begin after the Reconstruction. Gone from the curriculum will be any in-depth study of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
How can today’s children and teens be expected to carry on the traditions important to the survival of a Constitutional republic (not a democracy!) when they haven’t been taught? If they’ve never been told the stories of those whose struggles and sacrifice resulted in the birth of our nation, how will they appreciate the liberty they’ve inherited? When they’re told by left-leaning teachers and professors that America is evil…that murderous dictators are misunderstood heroes…that it’s government’s responsibility to guarantee equal outcomes for all (social justice)…how will they know?
It’s up to those of us who understand the trouble we face as a nation to do what the schools will no longer do. We have to educate ourselves on the foundations of our freedom: faith, personal responsibility, charity, private property and free enterprise. Then, make sure the young people we know understand them too.
The Founders knew that a government of the people, by the people and for the people would always be subject to the faults and failings of people. Therefore, they placed a heavy emphasis upon education. “Dumbing down” won’t do when it comes to fixing what’s wrong.
George Washington knew that when things began to veer off course, the American people themselves would see it, and take action. He said, “Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair; the rest is in the hands of God.” He believed in Divine Providence…and in us.
It’s my prayer that God blesses America on her 235th birthday and beyond. America, on the other hand, needs to bless God by being (and raising up) wise and honest citizens. This is what’s needed now to get the nation back to what she was meant to be: the “shining city on a hill” that President Ronald Reagan always referred to, and the world’s last example of freedom to oppressed people around the world.
Happy Independence Day!