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Old 08-07-2013, 12:42 PM
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Default Immigration & America’s Broken Civics Education System

Immigration and America?s Broken Civics Education System — The American Magazine

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Immigration and America’s Broken Civics Education System

America’s schools no longer teach our history or celebrate our unique culture, devaluing a powerful force for national unity


Senator Michael Bennet (D–Colorado) has written poignantly in support of the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill, urging its passage as a means of reaffirming “quintessential American values” and restoring “the American dream.” But today, few of our students — foreign or native born — know much about the provenance of those values. Our schools no longer teach the American dream. It is time for Americans to insist on restoring our system of civics education.

If the United States is to open a path to citizenship for today’s undocumented immigrants and maintain a liberal policy toward new immigration, we must break our silence on the sources of the freedom and prosperity that have drawn immigrants to our shores. Our immigration system is broken — but so is our system of civic education. As Congress moves towards opening new paths for immigrants, it should find a way to restore the foundation of American citizenship — the self-confident teaching of American history in our nation’s schools.

American history has always been a powerful force for inclusion, assimilation, and national unity. Children of immigrants from disparate parts of the globe, along with native-born children from all stations of life, discovered what it meant to be an American in our schools, where they recited the Pledge of Allegiance, celebrated Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays, learned about the American Revolution and the Civil War, and came to view themselves as part of an extraordinary culture of liberty. But our schools have drifted away from this mission.

Levels of Ignorance

Countless studies confirm that young Americans have become distressingly ignorant about their national past. The latest Department of Education national history assessment (2010) shows that only 12 percent of American high school seniors have a firm grasp of U.S. history. More than half (55 percent) scored below the “Basic” achievement level. A 2012 Roper survey of college graduates found widespread ignorance about U.S. history and basic functions of government: only 17 percent of those polled, for example, could identify famous words from the Gettysburg Address or knew the effects of the Emancipation Proclamation. Noting a 2009 study that found that 39 percent of Americans could not name a single right protected by the First Amendment, civil libertarian Greg Lukianoff has described us as a nation in the process of “unlearning liberty.” We are perilously close to testing Thomas Jefferson’s famous admonition: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

Most colleges and universities no longer require students to take a basic course in U.S. history or government (less than 20 percent, according to the American Council of Trustees and Alumni), and those students who happen to take U.S. history as an elective are not likely to hear much praise for the land of the free and the home of the brave. In its recent study of the history curriculum in Texas universities, the National Association of Scholars (NAS) found a preoccupation with the themes of race, class, and gender injustice. Says the NAS, “Other matters –– individual rights, entrepreneurship, industrialization, self-reliance, religion, war, science — fade into the margins along with the persons and events associated with them.” In sum: students become well-versed in the history of American bigotry, prejudice, and exclusion — but learn next to nothing about the heroic chapters of the national story.

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Many in the education establishment recoil at the idea of reviving a patriotic curriculum and do all they can to thwart it. Should members of the House or Senate try to address the blight of civic illiteracy, they will meet ferocious opposition. But they should know that there is at least equal strength on the other, less vocal, side. Dozens of established, mainstream civic education groups could provide leadership and concrete guidance on how to restore the nation’s history and civics curriculum. These include Common Core, Inc., the Center for Civic Education, ICivics, and the Bill of Rights Institute. (Note: Common Core, Inc. refers to the non-profit entity that focuses on designing curriculum materials, not to be confused with the Common Core State Standards Initiative.) A magnificent new e-learning project from AEI, WhatSoProudlyWeHail.org, directed by Amy Kass and Leon Kass, takes a literary approach to making informed citizens. It includes a ten-part online course, “The Meaning of America,” and a new series of e-books for celebrating national holidays. There is also the UNO Charter School Network of Chicago, which serves more than 6,500 mostly-Hispanic children in twelve K-8 schools and one high school. The UNO Network has developed an exemplary “American Civics Curriculum” that fosters pride, gratitude, and identification with American political and civic traditions. The schools’ mission is not simply to create educated and engaged citizens, “but educated and engaged American citizens” (emphasis in original). Assimilation and Americanization were once the raison d’être of our schools, and we should strive to make them so again.
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Something to think about.

It all starts with how our children and grandchildren are being taught in classrooms today all over America and it isn't good, IMO.
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Old 08-07-2013, 02:09 PM
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Default Re: Immigration & America’s Broken Civics Education System

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Originally Posted by CindyB View Post
Immigration and America?s Broken Civics Education System — The American Magazine



More at link.

Something to think about.

It all starts with how our children and grandchildren are being taught in classrooms today all over America and it isn't good, IMO.
The problem is that some people are embarrassed about America's history, so instead of being honest about it, they ignore it. So stupid. There are many more good things to look at in our history than bad things. To ignore all of it shows a real lack of honesty and a willingness to mislead young minds.
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