Donald Trump's presidential campaign has released a 50-point plan of action for his second term, including two directives for education. If reelected, Trump intends to "provide school choice to every child in America," and to "teach American exceptionalism."
The president is undoubtedly reacting to concerns that arose from parents this past spring semester. As more parents saw, through virtual learning portals, what kind of education was being imparted to their children, they became worried that the ideals of America were being thrown under the bus of social justice.
Decades of higher education have produced a workforce of educators that are steeped in critical race theory, and use it as the only lens through which the history of the United States is viewed.
While many conservative parents may be dismayed by the concept of curriculum mandates being rolled out by the White House, it is not without precedent. The Obama administration used grants and funding to encourage states to adopt Common Core curriculum standards. The George W. Bush administration used its spending power to enact sweeping changes under the No Child Left Behind Act.
In Illinois, there have been efforts by local legislators to stop teaching American history until a more "fair" history can be taught. In Tennessee, a local school district asked parents to promise not to monitor children's lessons. In New York, critical race theory has trickled down to the lower grades.
Still other teachers have made a point of saying that they are worried that they will not be able to indoctrinate children if their conservative parents are watching.
A parent in East Los Angeles was so concerned that he reached out to Trump via Twitter to let him know that Marxism is being taught to his kids at school, and that BLM is already part of the curriculum formation process.
In Milwaukee, BLM has been part of the school district's planning for at least two years, as they created a "Black Lives Matter at School National Week of Action." School districts across the country are implementing revisionist history curriculum based on things like the 1619 Project.
The concept of American exceptionalism is the idea that due to its founding documents and dedication to the ideals of equality America is exceptional on the world stage. The idea that it should be taught in schools was pushed back against by activists on social media who are sticking with the idea that America is evil and ought not be praised.
A federal mandate to teach ideas of American exceptionalism could mean that the White House would be prepared to fund states that take up the cause, the method used by previous administrations.
If so, the history of the nation's founding, along with the Enlightenment ideals that inspired the writers of the Constitution, should be taught. The way that the federal branches are uniquely balanced so as to limit the power of the judiciary, legislature, and executive offices, should be part of that American exceptionalist course of study.
Instead of learning only that America has been an oppressor both in North America and across the world, students should learn why the American nation has taken up the fight for democracy and freedom as often as it has.
Kids should learn that even though we have frequently failed to live up to our principles they are still worth having and striving toward. It is not always America's actions that make her an exceptional nation, but her steadfast determination to continue striving to achieve her potential.
Despite the flaws of this nation, our ideals are worth preserving and furthering, and if our students are going to grow up to be stewards of democracy, liberty, and freedom, they need to know just what makes those things so exceptional in the first place.
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