1776 Commission endangers student education

October 16, 2020

Propaganda is one of the most dangerous tools a government can use to control its citizens, and it’s exactly what President Trump is suggesting in the 1776 Commission released on Sept. 17, 2020.

In a speech on Constitution Day, Trump announced his plan for a more “patriotic education.” He wants to create a grant to install a “pro-American curriculum.”

The announcement was a political move. It’s “a reaction to a growing push by some academics for schools to teach an American history that better acknowledges slavery and systemic racism,” according to npr.org.

This all sounds eerily familiar, does it not? The leader of a country wanting to teach impressionable children about the greatness of their nation, completely disregarding the current or past injustices people have faced?

It sounds familiar because multiple countries and political leaders have done this in the past. Similar tactics of indoctrinating students for political gain were used by Nazi Germany, as well as the communist People’s Republic of China, who initiated a nationalist education after protests for democracy took place in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

In both instances, the country promoted an ideal of extreme patriotism to cover the current oppression of their citizens. In one case, Jewish people were suffering; in another, pro-democratic protestors were being silenced.

In America, minorities and people of color would be the ones to suffer most from a more “patriotic” education.

Trump’s goal of a “pro- American” curriculum really means the erasure of the struggles and obstacles many minorities have had to overcome.

Trump thinks the current education system is a “twisted web of lies” and “a form of child abuse.” He’s right in some regard- it does hold many lies. The education system fails to correctly educate its students about the more horrid parts of America’s past, like slavery. According to a survey done by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2018, only 8% of seniors in high school could recognize slavery as the main cause of the Civil War. The current education system does not need to be any more “patriotic;” it’s already not informative enough.

By not teaching and decreasing the impact of the United States’ history of oppression, the newer generation will lack the background knowledge needed to analyze and understand the discrepancies present in today’s society. Younger students won’t learn that because of restrictions and the lack of resources available to newly freed slaves, many states’ black populations failed to receive proper schooling for years, having disastrous effects for later generations. For instance, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina all had a combined population of 4.7 million black Americans in the mid-1940’s, but “more than half of all black adults had less than five years of formal education,” Carol Anderson writes in her book, “We Are Not Yet Equal” (94). In two of those states, Louisiana and South Carolina, “more than 60 percent of black men and women had only gone to fourth or fifth grade,” (Anderson 94). Less education in America means a smaller income, as evidenced by statista.com’s 2019 report of average household incomes. Those who had an education of less than ninth grade only made $30,355 compared to those who made $69,573 with an associate’s degree.

This is one reason why ethnic minorities have a higher rate of using welfare. Due to the failure of public schools to educate past generations of minorities like African Americans, households make less of an income and may need help from the government.

With Donald Trump’s new plan, none of this would be taught, as he thinks the 1619 Project, a Pulitzer-Prize winning history project that aims to establish the start of American history with the arrival of the first enslaved people brought to America’s shore, is “toxic propoganda” and “will destroy our country.”

Without this background knowledge of important historical events, the students that will be lacking an education go on to become politicians and leaders in this country and will make policies on things like welfare without having the proper information needed to make such decisions.

Thankfully, the “federal government has no jurisdiction over school curriculum,” npr.org states. However, the president and his misleading and incorrect messages still affect the nation greatly and hold a lot of influence.

The 1776 Commission must not establish a “pro-American” curriculum in schools so that America understands its oppressive past and be able to make connections to the present to make a difference; it is impossible to teach of “greatness” without having first identified where and how it came from and the struggles people are still going through today to achieve equality. The youth of today are our future, and we must do everything in our power to educate them correctly and truthfully, and not hide the worser parts of America’s past.

 

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