How Constitutional Civics Will Benefit Our Broken School System
Cold shoulders from Liberals on the school board and berating from our local press are but a few of the reactions to the excellent idea a friend of mine has for using “The 5000 Year Leap” as a textbook in our local high school Civics classes. The friend, who is a member of the local school board, has introduced a plan to bring the Constitution of the United States back into classrooms by replacing inaccurate and left-leaning text books with those that more fully teach the history and context of our founding. His enthusiasm has been met with skepticism and resistance from the entrenched lefties on the board, but little do the Liberals realize that until we return the fundamentals of Americanism to the public school system, the viability of that school system, and the children who come through it, are in doubt.
I’ll happily fight alongside my friend despite rejection and barrages of berating to bring Constitutional curricula back to our local classrooms. Proper education in the founding principles provides relatively simple answers to a plethora of questions that beset our nation. A number of our social problems and political divisions come from the inability of people to formulate and conform to a national identity. Minorities fail to assimilate properly because they’re not taught what it means to be an American. Even non-immigrant students are sometimes confused about what is right with America, what is wrong about our history, and whether or not they should be proud of their country. Too often pupils in our public schools lack the background knowledge needed to be active and conscientious citizens. Our young people are struggling with their identities as Americans because they are not educated about what America is, and where it came from.
Proper education about the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution has the potential to end America’s prolonged identity crisis. The genius of our Founding Documents lies in the scaffolding they provide for people to understand their relationship to God. Yes, the Founding Documents serve as the foundation for a secular government, but they are based upon, and their success is determined by, our ability to identify with our Creator. The archetypal American identity is a godly identity, and carries with it responsibilities that were once considered sacred.
The key observance that in the past secured American youngsters’ national identity suffered a disabling blow when, in 1962, religious prayer in public schools was found unconstitutional and no longer allowed. Over the following decades the quality of Western Civilization, American History, and Civics education was eroded by revisionism, Multiculturalism, the commingling of Socialist and Atheist doctrines, and the shocking omission of key political figures and events. America’s public schools are suffering from identity confusion which has resulted in estrangement from the rugged individualism, self-sufficiency, and moral certainty of our pioneer forbears. A poor, or distorted concept of Americanism has lead learners to view the government as the primary source of wisdom, physical support, and rights, and has given them an identity that is more bound to the collective than it is to God.
The first principles of our Founding Documents place the responsibility for the life, liberty, and the property of the citizen squarely upon the shoulders of the citizen. The idea that man is free–a moral agent to act or be acted upon–responsible for his own success or failure, is the basis of American philosophy. Americanism is the idea that man is given his rights by God, and to maintain those rights he must live a godly and moral life. The founding of America served as the beginning of the end of monarchical dictates that arbitrated the relationship between God and man. The American identity is intimately associated with the moral traits of honor, accountability, and equality under the law. As God and the Founding Principles of America have been jettisoned from public education, the ties between students and their unique and great nation have been nearly severed.
The loss of national pride contributes to much of the social dissipation and depression that vexes our families and culture. Human identity is at the core of hope, happiness, and meaning. When people lose their connection with God, either by conforming to degraded stereotypes belched into living rooms and movie theaters, or because they have lost the sense that they have power over their lives, achievements, and their futures, there is little left but self-absorption, groveling, and despair. The loss of American identity leaves a void that can be easily filled with counterfeits like European-style Socialism and cultural moral relativism (the idea that all cultures are equally good).
High-quality Constitutional education will not only enhance the historical knowledge and civics savvy of American public school students, it has enormous potential to benefit the culture. A moral framework is central to the healthy emotional and social development of children, and our founding documents provide such a framework. Though irreligious, they are of the mind of God. Civilization will only be redeemed through the kind of moral revolution that reasserts individual agency, worth, and Godly identity. Our economic, mental, and cultural health are doomed without such a revolution. The best weapon in this peaceful revolution is credible education in what it means to be an American, and why to be so is such an expansive and unequaled blessing.