Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Vacuum in Our Schools

Most ethnic studies programs in public schools are at the very best a waste of taxpayer money, and at worst racially and ethnically divisive indoctrination of our school kids. But the goal shouldn't be just getting rid of these programs, but ensure that public schools give all students a firm grounding in American history, culture, and government. This is being done away with little by little and it is wrong. We are losing our history as Americans.

In Arizona there is a program used that gives ethnic studies courses for Hispanics, blacks, Asians, and Native Americans. Critics of the program claim that the courses, especially those aimed at Mexican Americans, have become forums for political propaganda. And the school districts' own website provides evidence the critics are right in what they are saying.

Tucson's program, follows a similar pattern of turning facts around. According to a series of articles in the Arizona Republic last year, videos posted on line showed Tucson Chicano Studies classrooms decorated with "heroes" such as Fidel Castro, the communist dictator who ruled for nearly 50 years and single-handedly turned Cuba into one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere; Ernesto "Che" Guevara, an Argentine revolutionary who served in Castro's regime, ordering the deaths of thousands of innocent Cubans and personally executing more than 180 men; and Pancho Villa, a common criminal whose escapades were more about enriching himself than freeing Mexico. This gallery of thugs most certainly won't help Mexican-American students understand anything about the role of Mexican-Americans in U.S. history, which is how such programs are often sold to an unsuspecting public. Here a little and there a little we as Americans are losing our country to underhanded people.

For years, the teaching of American history, in our schools has become a system in the name of identity politics, divvying up slots in the historical assemblage to different groups: blacks, Latinos, women, gays. We've raised minor characters to major roles in American history if they fit the right ethnic or gender profile and dropped leading figures of the American founding fathers, the Civil War, and modern history. In the process, we've forgotten about teaching what it means to be an American — what is unique and trans formative in American. We are losing what America is all about.

Now, more than ever, we need to energize the teaching of American history — the nation's ideals, principles, its political and legal system — and not just for the sake of the millions of newcomers to our country. Indeed, U.S.-born children of all racial and ethnic groups receive precious little education in American history in our schools, which undermines their ability to understand and defend democratic principles of this republic.

The problem is not just getting rid of divisive ethnic studies programs; it's figuring out what replaces them. Legislatures around the country should put in place rigorous standards that ensure that all students will study American history, government, and culture throughout their public school education. We've created an emptiness in our public schools that gets filled with all sorts of nonsense and dangerous programs that is endangering our kids.. It's time we fill it with something worthwhile. Let them once again learn about our forefathers, our history as a nation, the constitution, and the Bill Of Rights. Let them once again learn what our brave soldiers have fought and died for.

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