Students Ignorant of American History
By C. Bradley Thompson (July 4, 2003)
As we celebrate Independence Day, we should be reminded of one sobering fact: our young people know very little of the history that made this country great. On a recent national history test, 57 percent of high school seniors flunked even a basic knowledge of American history.
What our students don't know, however, is not as bad as what they do know. History as it is taught in our schools today is driven by one theme: by a hatred of America and its ideals. It is common these days for students to be told, for instance, that the Founding Fathers were racist, sexist, "classist," "homophobic," Euro-centric bigots.
By contrast, there was a time, not too long ago, when students were required to study the great events, the magnanimous statesmen, the brave soldiers, the brilliant inventors, and the ingenious industrialists of American history. There was a time when American students knew in intimate detail the heroic story of the American Revolution and the tragedy of the Civil War.
American children once learned about honesty from George Washington, justice from Thomas Jefferson, integrity from John Adams, independence from Daniel Boone, oratory from Daniel Webster, ingenuity from Thomas Edison, perseverance from the Wright Brothers, and courage from Sergeant York. They memorized and learned the principles of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Gettysburg Address. American history was taught as a grand story of heroic accomplishment on an epic scale. The history of America was the history of freedom.
On this, our great national holiday, let us rededicate "our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor" to the greatness of America.