This morning, the American Constitution Society blog referenced a recent report from the Associated Press:
“The Associated Press has provided new details about a push by the nation’s largest Tea Party umbrella group to teach the Constitution in public schools using materials from an organization that promotes the Constitution as a divinely inspired document.
As originally reported by Mother Jones, the Tea Party Patriots are encouraging public schools to participate in “Constitution Week” in September by utilizing teaching materials from the National Center for Constitutional Studies, a group that ACS Executive Director Caroline Fredrickson called so outside the mainstream that even the conservative Federalist Society would object to its materials.
Mother Jones’ Stephanie Mencimer participated in a daylong seminar with NCCS last year, and reported:
If its public school curriculum resembles anything like what I witnessed, it has no place in the nation’s classrooms. Among other things, NCCS uses materials written by Skousen suggesting that Anglo-Saxons are descended from a lost tribe of Israel; Skousen claimed this meant the Constitution may have been inspired by God, who intended for America to be a Christian nation. The very same bogus history has been perpetuated by the white supremacist movement.”
When the public schools fail to teach real history–when most “social studies” classes are taught by people hired for their ability to be athletic coaches rather than their ability to teach American history or the constitutional architecture–students are defenseless against this sort of propaganda.
Here’s a proposal for those of you reading this. Ask the next three teenagers you encounter to answer a couple of these questions: what was the Enlightenment? What are checks and balances? What does the Establishment Clause do? How did the 14th Amendment change the Constitution?
My guess is the results of such an experiment wouldn’t be very pretty.