It’s About More Than the Fireworks

I hope you all had a happy 4th of July celebration. (For those in my age cohort, I hope you were able to stay up for the fireworks….I’m happy to report that, with the help of an afternoon nap, I made it!) I also hope that at some point during the festivities, you thought a bit about the meaning of citizenship.

I know my periodic diatribes about the importance of civic knowledge often makes me sound like a broken record, so today, I’m ceding my position as annoying sermonizer to this guy. 

I hope you take the time to read the whole column. It isn’t long. But in case you are disinclined to click through, here’s the conclusion:

For good or for ill, the education reform movement of the last few decades has achieved a nearly unquestioned consensus that the big picture goal of K-12 education is to ensure that all of America’s children leave school “college or career ready.”

By all means, let’s prime the pump of our economic competitiveness with more college-goers, more science, math and technology graduates. Let’s ensure every child has a shot at a private piece of the American Dream.

But let’s also make sure schools still perform the greatest possible public service: preparing our children to be the informed citizens a stable, self-governing country needs.


  1. A number of years ago, a bright and courageous politician (Yes, there have been some.) asked a group of people how many wanted their child’s teacher to open with prayer every day. Many raised their hands. Then he asked how many of them closed their child’s day with prayer every day. Silence.

    Teaching citizenship is in the first paragraph of almost every state constitution, as the primary purpose of education, and when schools fail to do that, they fail to meet one of primary purposes of American education. But when adults also fail to do that with their children, citizenship is neither being written in their child’s heads or their hearts. Something else is being taught.

    In a recent discussion of religion and government, a historian said that the founders of this country wanted Christians to be involved with the government, not because they themselves were inclined to be Christian, but because Christians were known for their willingness to sacrifice for a cause. The new republic needed people who would commit to the establishment and maintenance of the republic, because (as the writer of your article states) they knew it was going to be difficult. As farmers, they knew that unless you constantly tend a garden, you have a crop of weeds. Oddly, the most loud and odious “Christians” aren’t inclined to sacrifice anything for the cause of the republic, but they seem to be very sensitive about their own narcissistic needs, as are many others. When people aren’t curious enough to confront and question political myths, the untrue mythology about the foundation of this “grand experiment”, and help make it succeed, children only learn talking points and lies along with the value that “it’s all about me”. Is it any wonder that our children are not learning the meaning and value of citizenship?

  2. I agree with Mr. Swenson. True Christians understand the importance of self-sacrifice for the good of the collective order. Psuedo-Christians only use Christianity as a means of achieving their own self-interest. Praying for a new job, computer, car, toaster, etc is just another part of selfish consumerism. These Pseudo-Christians also use religion as a way to suppress or control marginal or other religious groups through a “divine order.” Of course radical Muslims are just as bad if not worse due to the fact that radical Muslims will not hesisitate to use violence to impose their will and doctrine. Both radical groups want a strict religious doctrine to control government and how people live their lives, especially in regards to sex (reproductive rights) and what is considered contraband (pornography, alcohol, etc).Religion in the wrong hands can be very dangerous just like political power in the wrong hands. History can speak for me on that one.

  3. There are few politicians fighting the good fight Stuart, here:

    Warren has proposed legislation—her very first bill—to correct this anomaly. Instead of doubling the student loan rate from 3.4 to 6.8 percent, as the government did in July, she wants it reduced to the same rate that banks are charged at the Fed’s discount window: 0.75 percent. In addition, Warren wants the Fed to pay for this modest debt reduction, just as it did for the Wall Street bailouts.

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