The Blame America First Reading of History
July 14, 2014
Most people are familiar with the character Jack Bauer in the series "24". Jack Bauer epitomizes what many would refer to as the ends justify the means. The audience cheers Agent Bauer because he makes the choice to break rules if he knows in the end it will save lives. In the final stage of Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development, "people follow these internalized principles of justice, even if they conflict with laws and rules."
There are many who would like to find fault with our country's Founders and Framers, by pointing out their imperfections and inconsistencies. A common argument is that some owned slaves so they were hypocritical when they talk about the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. Some point out that if all men are created equal, that women and blacks should have been given the same consideration. Sadly, those who make these arguments look at the Founders and Framers out of historical context and do not give them proper credit for pointing out that we are born with these rights, and that they are not provided to us by those in positions of leadership. They are unmoved by the words, "in order to form a more perfect union" and do not recognize that our US Constitution was probably the best and least invasive to individual rights that would have made it through the ratification process. Finally, they do not consider that our system of government allowed for our country's large economic growth and the birth of a middle class. They do not credit our political society for the ability to move between classes. This is a sad state of affairs.
Worse still, our nation's schools have been focusing on reading, math, and science, to the detriment of studying history. The Framers understood the importance of education and believed that in order for our republican form of government to survive, we needed to set up checks and balances to prevent a majority from tyrannizing a minority, or visa-versa. If those who are ruled do not understand our system of government or the reasons for how it was set up, they are not in a position to understand when their rights are threatened or being eroded.
In New War Over High School History, Stanley Kurtz warns his readers that if implemented, "the new AP US History Exam is about to entrench a controversial and highly politicized national school curriculum without proper notice or debate. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and a full understanding of our founding principles are on the way out. Race, gender, class, and ethnicity are coming in, all in secrecy and in clear violation of the Constitution's guarantee that education remain in control of the states." Furthermore, "the new AP US History framework effectively forces teachers to train their students in a leftist, blame-America-first reading of history, while omitting traditional treatments of our founding principles."
It would seem to me that any high school that would administer such an exam and any college that would accept the results of this AP exam and provide students college credit based on such a skewed interpretation of history would be violating their Hippocratic Oath...oh, wait a moment, teachers and schools of education do not have Hippocratic Oaths, they promote agendas (though often unwittingly). But that is another conversation. How does one ensure that schools provide an accurate depiction of history, in context? According to Kurtz, the state of Texas has the power to prevent this new test from being adopted. "This is because they represent 10 percent of the College Board's market." I have another idea. Why don't college's, such as Hillsdale, create their own AP exams. Schools would be forced to teach more objectively and provide alternative interpretations so that students understand the ideologies which influence how we see the origins of and current political society.
Learn more about how you can get involved in making sure the US Constitution and civics are included in each student's curriculum by visiting the Center for Civic Education.