Perhaps the only silver lining to public schools going virtual out of an irrational fear of the coronavirus is that many parents are finally taking a closer look at what their children are learning. And it's not pretty. Mary Hasson, an attorney, education expert, and fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, said in an interview on Washington Watch that parents "are realizing their kids have embraced this view of America as a toxic country, a place that's 'fundamentally unjust.'"
Materials that supplement curricula are coming "almost exclusively from progressive organizations." The Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance, Planned Parenthood's radical sex education, and the 1619 project -- that's what kids are being taught in classrooms and much of it paid for by taxpayers. At the same time, children are not learning American history.
As usual, President Trump has not been afraid to meet the political correctness of the Left head-on. He announced plans to establish "a national commission to promote patriotic education" called "the 1776 Commission." This new initiative, which will be placed in the Department of Education, comes not a moment too soon.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos joined me on Washington Watch yesterday to discuss the announcement. "Too many young people today have very little knowledge or understanding of history, and of how their government is constructed, and what the original Founders had in mind," she said. The National Assessment of Educational Progress revealed only 15 percent of middle schoolers have a reasonable knowledge of U.S. history, while one in four have below a basic understanding.
The effort to drive a wedge between children and the beliefs of their parents has been nearly a decade in the making, according to Hasson, at least in conservative areas of the country. A third of college freshmen are atheist, agnostic, or profess no religious belief, and 40 percent say they plan to join protests and demonstrations.
Secretary DeVos said we're seeing "the downstream implications of that ignorance [of U.S. history] in some of our major cities across the country today." Indeed, what started as protests against police brutality and racial discrimination have quickly devolved into riots aimed at destroying American history. This summer, often violent protests have targeted President Abraham Lincoln, President Ulysses Grant, and both black and white abolitionists, not to mention George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
Historical monuments help us remember our history -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. Secretary DeVos continued, "we have to learn from history so that we learn what not to do and what to do in the future." It goes both ways.
The Trump administration's 1776 project will aim to teach schoolchildren about the values that actually inspired our founding. The Declaration of Independence talks about inalienable rights given by God. The Constitution outlines a system of limited government and separated powers designed to protect against the vices of human nature. This is really what America is all about. Secretary DeVos added that our "more perfect union" is a goal to strive for. The phrase itself "indicates a progression," she said. "It's a process, not an event."
The good news is, after years of progressive dominance over education, President Trump is seeking to move the needle back towards sanity. "We're going to see a lot more attention paid to really preparing the next generation in a way that we've neglected for too long," said Secretary DeVos. There's no cause more worthwhile than teaching the next generation about our -- and their -- history.