Hey Caiti: What about America?


A conversation between a young girl and her mother, overheard in a public setting.

Girl: Guess what we’re going to study this year?

Mother: What is that?

Girl: We’re going to study about Africa, and the first thing we’re going to learn about is Egypt.

Some might say this is a mundane subject, not in the least bit newsworthy. But, let’s examine this conversation more closely. The first question that comes to mind is why this parent didn’t know what classes her child was taking in school. The next thought is, why is a school age child learning about Africa? What about America? You might be amazed at the answer to those two questions.

One might wonder, is the fact that a parent doesn’t know what classes a child is taking an indictment on the lack of parental involvement or is it an indictment of federal systems that mandate to local schools what classes they will teach, or risk losing federal funding?

Let’s set aside the parental issue for another discussion and focus on the classes being taught, or more importantly in this case, the classes that are not being taught. Writing for the ABA Journal, Mark Hansen says: “Only one state deserved a rating of A when it came to teaching its students American history, according to a recent study. Most states fell in the category of ‘mediocre to awful’.”

Whatever label you give to them, American history or civics classes, they are either not being taught or are not being given priority as needed classes. For those of you who have forgotten, civics classes were about teaching our youth about this great nation. The classes taught our youth about American history, American government, and American politics.

With so many of our youth graduating from high school with no concept of our political system, why should we be surprised that there is such a low turnout at the voting booths? In a presentation by Charles N. Quigley, the executive director at the Center for Civic Education, he said: “Today a student can graduate from high school in the state of Illinois without ever having taken a course in American government. The same is true in 29 other states that do not require students to take such courses.”

What happened to America?

Some might argue that in a global market it only makes sense to learn about other countries. To a certain point that could be a valid argument. However, when would be the best time be to teach history on a global scale? Perhaps those classes about other countries would be better suited to be taught in college.

The reality is, that today when we have those with PhD’s driving truck, and those with MBA’s flipping hamburgers. It is probably safe to say that those with only a high school education will not be finding employment that will require them to make decisions on a global scale. But, they will certainly be asked to make decisions as Americans, in an American society.

So, wouldn’t it be to their advantage to learn about the America they will eventually be navigating through?

Therefore, it might be prudent for every parent to start asking their children, their schools, and their government: What about America?”

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