Vernuccio’s View: Erasing American History

TodayAmericans will celebrate Independence Day.  If current educational trends continue, few of the current generation in American schools may understand the significance of the date.

Independence Day_July 4thThe lack of knowledge in U.S. History has become so dire that even once-popular tourist sites based on America’s heritage are becoming imperiled. In an open letter issued in June, Mitchel B. Reiss, President of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, (a major site offering a recreated colonial-era village) sadly noted that “For a variety of reasons – [including] less American history being taught in schools, changing times and tastes that cause us to attract half the visitors we did 30 years ago – the Foundation loses significant amounts of money every year.”

Earlier this year, the New York Post’s Karol Markowicz  wrote that  “Don’t know much about history . . .,’ goes the famous song. It’s an apt motto for the Common Core’s elementary school curriculum. A 2012 story in Perspectives on History magazine by University of North Carolina professor Bruce Van Sledright found that 88 percent of elementary school teachers considered teaching history a low priority. Van Sledright also found that teachers just didn’t know enough history to teach it. He wrote there was some ‘holiday curriculum as history instruction,’ but that was it.”

Last year, a Blaze report noted, George Washington University decided that even history majors did not have to take any courses in American History.

In 2015, ABC’s KSFY affiliate reported that “the South Dakota Board of Education approved new guidelines that do not require high schools to teach U.S. history.”

Nations Report Card  study found that only 18% of eighth grade students are proficient in U.S. history.  Similarly, a worrisome 2014 survey of 1,416 adults recently conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy  Center  found that:

  • While little more than a third of respondents (36 percent) could name all three branches of the U.S. government, just as many (35 percent) could not name a single one;
  • Just over a quarter of Americans (27 percent) know it takes a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate to override a presidential veto; and
  • One in five Americans (21 percent) incorrectly thinks that a 5-4 Supreme Court decision is sent back to Congress for reconsideration.

Also in 2014, Capitol quotes a statement by Arizona state legislator Steve Montenegro, a Republican, that “Civics and Social Studies and History are being boxed out of the classroom.”  He notes that “96% of a sample group of high schoolers in Arizona and Oklahoma failed to pass a basic test on citizenship issues.”

In a commentary, William J. Dodwell provides his analysis for the growing exclusion of U.S. history:

“The origin of the malaise derives from the ideological and administrative politicization of public education…The radical departure from traditional curricula and academic standards linked to the institution of political correctness in the schools and colleges raises serious questions as to educational purpose. Has the left deliberately diluted education in its self-interest… Education authorities have curtailed or eliminated the teaching of civics and American history such that many children do not even know who George Washington was.  Daniel Henninger writes in The Wall Street Journal, June 11, 2015, about the College Board’s revision of the Advance Placement examination for U.S. history.  The changes recast the subject in a framework of ‘different contexts of U.S. history, with special attention given to the formation of gender, class, racial and ethnic identities…”

America’s heritage and national character are being removed by the nation’s educational hierarchy. It is a challenge to the very existence of the character of the nation.  It is a crisis of extraordinary importance, and must be remedied without delay. Parents must review the curriculum in the schools their children attend, and force changes where needed.

Frank V. Vernuccio, Jr., J.D.

Frank V. Vernuccio, Jr., J.D.

Frank Vernuccio serves as editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy & Government.

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