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July 24, 2006

Major Education Victory in the Sunshine State

        The Florida legislature took a firm step toward restoring some factual accuracy into the current perversion of teaching our nation's  history. Judging from the reaction of the education elites, you would think these founding principles were downright subversive.

        The new Florida requirements (pdf pp. 22-23) state:
Members of the instructional staff of the public schools shall teach ... the following: (a) The history and content of the Declaration of Independence, including national sovereignty, natural law, self evident truth, equality of all persons, limited government, popular sovereignty, and inalienable rights of life, liberty, and property, and how it forms the philosophical foundation of our government.
        Florida schools are now also required to teach:
The history, meaning, significance, and effect of the provisions of the Constitution of the United States and amendments thereto, with emphasis on each of the 10 amendments that make up the Bill of Rights and how the constitution provides the structure of our government.
The nature and importance of free enterprise to the United States economy.
        Most parents believe teaching these foundational principles is a staple of U.S. history and civics. As Minnesotans discovered when their social studies standards were rewritten in 2004, however, the universities and schools of education have joined with the political left to censor these fundamental cornerstones of our free nation from the classroom, and they won't willingly restore them.

        Florida, however, has enacted language similar to the Minnesota citizen standards that were denounced by University profs and by every major Minnesota media outlet. (The Minnesota battle can be reviewed here.) In so doing, Florida provided a valuable model for other states to emulate.

        The Florida law has so threatened the educational left that the Sunday edition of the New York Times has taken up the cause. In "History Under Construction" (July 2, 2006), Professor Mary Beth Norton of Cornell University (who specializes in women's history, gendered power and Salem witch trials) went after Florida's elected body. What riled her most was this statement from the new Florida law:
American history shall be viewed as factual, not as constructed, shall be viewed as knowable, teachable, and testable, and shall be defined as the creation of a new nation based largely on the universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence.
        The LA Times and numerous other MSM ran her column, and leftist blogs across the country rent their garments over the prospect  that history would be taught as something other than their personal opinions. National Review Online answered back within 24 hours (" Construction Deconstructed: Facts and snippy academics," Matthew Franck). Franck stated:
...postmodern social theory has been invading the historical profession, reducing ěthe belief that there are ëfactsí about historyî to the status of ěan ideological positionî with no privileged status over the competing view that ěhistory is nothing more than a form of literature.î Perhaps Norton, who declares that she ělove[s] facts,î hasnít heard of this crisis in her own discipline. But someone in Florida seems to have heard of it. And that ěnot as constructedî language in the new state law was surely aimed at such fashions of postmodernism, with the intent of keeping the stateís history teachers from donning those new clothes.
         "Constructing meaning" conveniently leaves the educational elites in total control of redefining history. As the Minnesota battle for social studies standards demonstrated, the university crowd and high-placed politicos have censured our founding principles out of our history, despite what parents clearly want their kids to know.     

         For example, the Minnesota Senate Education Committee Chair, now running for state-wide office, actually said on a radio interview, "I'm not sure it's accurate, legally or historically, to call the Declaration of Independence a 'founding document'." In a party-line vote, the Minnesota Democratic-dominated Senate defeated an amendment to teach national sovereignty and the "self evident truth" as stated in  the Declaration. On another vote they refused to even agree to teach kids that Abraham Lincoln considered that the principles of the Declaration were believed by the founders to be true for all people at all time, as he stated in his speech at Gettysburg.

        In Florida, their legislature appropriately stepped in. Their law is a first step toward confronting the federally subsidized curriculum from the Center for Civic Education, which states on its website that current curriculum should be transformed to "globally accepted and internationally transcendent principles." America already has genuine universal principles, but the left isn't interested in them.

        The left's paranoid fear of the Declaration of Independence is focused on its clear statement of national sovereignty, without which the Constitution is meaningless. The goal of the New Civics (and history, and literature, and science) is to transfer the student's allegiance to the UN.

Julie M. Quist

For more information on the subject, see:
Fed Ed: The New Federal Curriculum and How Itís Enforced
Transformational Education

Traditional v. Radical: Two Competing Worldviews
Securing the Unalienable Rights vs. Promoting the Common Good.

EdWatch Fall Conference
Friday, October 13, 2006  6:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 14, 2006   9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Embassy Suites Hotel Airport
Bloomington, Minnesota
Related topics:
"Global Classrooms': the UN Curriculum in Americaís schools"
         Michael Chapman
"How International Baccalaureate undermines American Citizenship"
        Allen Quist

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