As parents and concerned teachers across the nation continue to raise objections to Common Core, stressing the need for local control of education, more than one prominent political commentator has weighed in on the issue.
In an excellent op-ed published in the Washington Post, George Will gave a brief summary of Lamar Alexander’s history in education legislation, reminding us of the times the Tennessee senator has fought to maintain state, rather than federal, control of primary and secondary education. Today, “[h]e is seeking 60 Senate votes to, he says, ‘reverse the trend toward a national school board,’ which the Education Department has become.”
Will goes on to point out, “Time was, before Congress acted on any subject, it asked: Is this a legitimate concern of the federal government?” and proceeds to sketch the failure of the schools as government continues to inappropriately extend its reach into education.
There are good reasons to maintain local control of education, rather than allow an entity with the removed power of the federal government, to determine what children are taught and why. Phyllis Schalfly addresses some of these concerns in her January 2015 Phyllis Schlafly Report, “Common Core is replacing the teaching of traditional American history with a new left-leaning curriculum.” Forming the minds and attitudes of the next generation is the clear objective of this attempted national overhaul. Schalfly states:
Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and the other Founders are mostly omitted from the new History text unless they can be scripted to fit in with the leftwing narrative of race, class, gender, or ethnicity. The U.S. Constitution is studied as an example of the founders’ belief in the superiority of their own culture. Students are programmed to believe that America is not exceptional.
In his farewell address on January 11, 1989, after careful thought, Ronald Reagan gave the following advice to the America he loved:
An informed patriotism is what we want. And are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world? Those of us who are over 35 or so years of age grew up in a different America. We were taught, very directly, what it means to be an American. And we absorbed, almost in the air, a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions. If you didn’t get these things from your family you got them from the neighborhood, from the father down the street who fought in Korea or the family who lost someone at Anzio. Or you could get a sense of patriotism from school. And if all else failed you could get a sense of patriotism from the popular culture. The movies celebrated democratic values and implicitly reinforced the idea that America was special. TV was like that, too, through the mid-sixties.
But now, we’re about to enter the nineties, and some things have changed. Younger parents aren’t sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children. And as for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style. Our spirit is back, but we haven’t reinstitutionalized it. We’ve got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It’s fragile; it needs production [protection].
So, we’ve got to teach history based not on what’s in fashion but what’s important — why the Pilgrims came here, who Jimmy Doolittle was, and what those 30 seconds over Tokyo meant. You know, 4 years ago on the 40th anniversary of D – day, I read a letter from a young woman writing to her late father, who’d fought on Omaha Beach. Her name was Lisa Zanatta Henn, and she said, “we will always remember, we will never forget what the boys of Normandy did.” Well, let’s help her keep her word. If we forget what we did, we won’t know who we are. I’m warning of an eradication of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit. Let’s start with some basics: more attention to American history and a greater emphasis on civic ritual.
The liberals understand this lesson all too well, as their aggressive push to control education makes very clear.