California's Ethnic Studies Curriculum vs. Trump's Patriotic Education
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The English poet and literary critic Samuel Johnson is often remembered for his exclamation, “Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels.” A Washington Post journalist recently channeled this sentiment in comparing President Trump’s proposal for a national patriotic education commission to authoritarian propaganda taught in China, Turkey and Hungary.
In fairness to patriots, Samuel Johnson was only criticizing false patriotism used to cover up for ulterior motives. Nikole Hannah-Jones, the lead behind the NY Times' controversial 1619 Project, levies this accusation against the Founding Fathers. She claims the American Revolution was not really about independence, but rather slavery. This same narrative has been embraced in California's new ethnic studies curriculum, but not everyone is having it.
Williamson M. Evers Ph.D is the Director of the Independent Institute’s Center on Educational Excellence. A founding member of the Hoover Institution’s Koret Task Force on K-12 Education, Evers has been warning about the watering down of educational standards in the name of diversity. Evers will join me this Sunday to explain the bewildering vocabulary being taught to schoolchildren, from "Hxrstory" to "Master narrative." This is a must-listen for those who were perplexed during this week’s Presidential debate, when Biden claimed that "critical race theory" was really just another term for racial sensitivity training.
Trump’s “1776 Commission” represents a challenge to the apparent bias of the 1619 Project and related ethnic studies classes. Where the media sees signs of a spiral towards fascism in the attempt to dictate a national curriculum, conservatives see an effort to reverse decades of indoctrination by public schools.
The unpopularity of America’s founding ideals within academia has trickled down to the elementary and secondary school curricula, where students in California, for example, spend little time learning basic civics or American history. Meanwhile, the left seems to once again be rediscovering the principles of Federalism – arguing that the federal government should stay out of the business of local school districts.
To his credit, Governor Gavin Newsom recently vetoed the latest bill, which would have required all California high-schoolers to take an ethnic studies course to graduate.
Does the President's commission represent the true patriotism of the American founders or is it, as Johnson put it, the last refuge of scoundrels?