WDAM Viewpoint- History deficit in our schools

June 16, 2011

Last week in a Viewpoint, I mentioned in passing that a public school teacher had recently told me that the teaching of history was being virtually ignored in our school systems, especially in the high school grades.  This week, an article in The Wall Street Journal made the same point after national test score results were released on Tuesday.  Only 12% of 12th-graders were deemed "proficient" in history knowledge, and over half of them scored at the lowest possible achievement level, "below basic" according to the Journal.  Common reasoning is that with the enactment of the "No Child Left Behind Act" which stresses testing in areas such as math and science in order to hold teacher accountable—those are the subjects that are focused upon.  As former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush opined, "What gets tested, gets taught".  It was his brother, former President George W. Bush who pushed the act through.  It was a well enough intentioned act.  But, once again, it showed how inadequate the federal government is at predicting consequences to their grand ideas.  Math and science are indeed crucial subjects…especially in today's ever more technological world.  But when students finish school ignorant of our constitution and the premises upon which this nation was founded and the wars that have been fought to preserve our freedoms and ideals as well as the struggles of our great people to evolve into the greatest nation on earth—something is woefully wrong.  Parent's…it may well be up to you to teach your children the importance of history and political knowledge.  Education is a lifetime endeavor and those who leave it at the school house door are doing a disservice to themselves and their children.  I'm Jim Cameron and that's today's Viewpoint.  Let us know what you think.