Sam Smith – One thing that is rarely mentioned as we struggle against growing attacks on freedom and ethnic minorities is that our school systems have increasingly emphasized individual achievement over such matters as democracy, ethnic relations, community, and cultural fairness. As selfish capitalism and competition have grown in significance, the skills and standards of a decent society have lost standing on our school curricula.
US News & World Report put it this way:
For decades, civics has taken a back seat to priorities like math, reading and college preparation, educators say. There are no mandatory federal standards for teaching civics or social studies. Instead, each state has its own standards that reflect its priorities and history. In many school districts, civics is taught only once, often in a semester-long high school class.
According to a study by the Annenberg Civics Knowledge Survey, in 2021 only 56% of American adults could name all three branches of the US government
Only nine states and the District of Columbia require one year of U.S. government or civics, while 30 states require a half year and the other 11 states have no civics requirement.
The rise in ethnic conflict also reflects in part an indifference to teaching the true nature of human society. There is no doubt that if our children learned more about multiculturalism they would approach it differently as adults. This is not about dealing just with the negative aspects like racism, but helping children learn how to live in a varied society.
The fact that we are hardly even discussing this in a major reason we are so helpless in our current conditions. We have taught our children to primarily concentrate on their own progress and not how to live and work with others or how to function well under the constitution they swear to uphold.
The recovery of a decent America has to be achieved in no small part from the bottom up. We still have democracy and decent citizens in many communities but they get little help from those with great power. We must see ourselves responsible for rebuilding America that has been badly damaged and our schools are a great place to start.