It wasn’t long before I started reading Tim Goeglein, my friend and profoundly important book Toward A More Perfect Union. The moral and cultural case for teaching the Great American Story was what brought me to tears.
This paragraph was found by me. Goeglein is a Focus on the Family Vice President and cites the results from a 2009 survey among public high school students in Oklahoma. Oklahoma was where I grew up in the 1950s & 1960s.
“A 2009 survey of Oklahoma high school students revealed that when they were faced with 10 questions from the U.S citizenship test, all legal immigrants must pass, the students struggled to answer. One in four Americans could correctly identify George Washington as the first president. Only 10% of respondents knew that there were nine Supreme Court justices and only 29% knew that the president was the head of the executive branch. Only 3 percent could answer 6 of the 10 questions. This is the minimum score required to pass the U.S citizenship test.
Remember that Oklahoma was and is still one of the most reddest states in America. It’s also one of the largest margins by which former President Donald Trump won it in 2016 as well as 2020.
This is Oklahoma, which is still called “the buckle of Bible Belt” by many because of its many churches of the Southern Baptist and Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic, Presbyterian, and other denominations. These churches are often full even on Sundays.
However, the survey was clearly not about Oklahoma in my childhood or adolescence. As I looked over the results, I was struck by a series books I found on a fifth-grade classroom book shelf.
Although I can’t remember the name of the series at the moment, each book featured one of the early American heroes: Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Paul Jones, Oliver Hazard Perry, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and many other.
Their stories fascinated me so much that I developed a passion for American history and the principles upon which it was founded. As much as I loved the New York Yankees of Mickey Mantle, Bobby Richardson, and the Indy 500 from A.J. Foyt, Roger Ward, America was what moved me the most — Washington crossing The Delaware, The Constitution and The Federalist Papers. Calhoun and Webster debating. The settling of West, America’s role at winning two world wars and the extraordinary freedom of our people.
Many of the credit went to the teachers that I met along the way. But Mrs. Unger, my civics teacher in 10th grade, deserves more. The third word she spoke was enough to tell you that she was a very liberal, brash New Yorker. Only God knows why she was there.
She was right, and she believed in America too. During the year I was in her class we talked, discussed and debated about the news of that day, including how it related to the Declaration of Independence and the separation of powers.
It’s not that there are no more teachers like Mrs. Unger by 2009, but that things have gotten worse in public schools across the country, even in deep-red Oklahoma, since that troubling survey was done.
Today’s reality is that schools aren’t teaching American history; they just trash it. Goeglein quotes Arthur Schlesinger, a liberal historian, on why this is so harmful:
The nation is as much a part of history as the individual is. A person who loses their memory is unable to remember where he came or where he is going, and becomes disoriented and disoriented.
His chapter on the multitude of lies and distortions that made Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States so pernicious for multiple generations of American youth demonstrates how Goeglein has conducted his research.
Goeglein calls Zinn “the godfather” of the radical attack against America’s history, heritage. He published his book in 1980 and quickly became the standard work on which curricula were built throughout both public and private schools. Goeglein summarizes Zinn’s impact:
“Zinn transformed American history education from a discipline that surveyed facts and events to a display of’reframing and’reimagining’ facts to suit a particular narrative. Despite its obvious inaccuracies, the astonishing acceptance of A People’s History opened the door to historically flawed work such as the 1619 Project.
America has not only forgotten its history, but has also been obsessed with destroying it and replacing it with the many radical Left lies, myths, and myths that have taught generation upon generation that America is a nation based on privilege, oppression, and fraud. We wonder why graduates don’t feel proud to be Americans.
Goeglein is optimistic. He refers to the “Parents Revolution”, which has gathered legions of concerned Dads and Moms to attend school board meetings, sometimes for the first ever. They demand answers about their children’s education and a return back to teaching “the basics,” including American history fact-based.
The revolution reached Congress too as a group of House Republicans introduced the “Parents Bill of Rights” this week. This, among other things, guarantees that the curriculum is publicly available and that parents have the final authority over their children and not the state.
Revolutions are not quick and Goeglein warns in the concluding chapter:
“Taking a stand is not easy. As I mentioned, the Left is willing spend millions of dollars indoctrinating schoolchildren while keeping parents out. This may require us to make sacrifices such as sending our children to a traditional school, strong faith-based college or homeschooling them. We must do this for our children’s future and the country’s. It is the very future of Western civilization at risk.”
Revolutions are not easy. But then neither was creating and achieving the great American story that our ancestors envisioned. Ronald Reagan asked that night, not too long ago: Will we save America for our children, and our grandchildren, or send them into a thousand years in darkness?
There is no better time than now to choose. The hour is getting late.