An Open Letter to Idaho’s State Board of Education, 10/17/19

This letter was presented, in person, to the Idaho State Board of Education as part of a 3 Minute Public Comment section of their October 17th Public Meeting in Lewiston, Idaho. They patiently listened, but this initiative seemed to be worlds away from the focus of their efforts.

It seems likely that genuine reforms to Graduation Requirements to include Western Civilization will have to come as a result of public pressure from citizens coupled with political action by Elected Officeholders.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Esteemed Members of Idaho’s State Board of Education,

All American students have a basic need to understand their own shared culture and civilization.  All American teenagers will soon be adult citizens, who will shape, preserve, or reform our society going forward.  No person should make such fundamental decisions in ignorance of how and why our civic institutions and values developed in the struggles of the past few millennia. 

Both Idahoan and American schools have been distracted from this primary mission of acculturation for generations.  This initiative aims to correct this error, and restore the coherent teaching of Western Civilization and American History to every student without exception. 

Idaho’s High School Social Studies Graduation Requirements shall be altered from their current Social Studies form to become the following Four Year History Requirement.

     9th Grade:          Ancient & Medieval Western Civilization (from Creation Myths through Columbus’ Discovery of America, A. D. 1492)

Paleolithic Nomadic Hunter-Gatherers, Neolithic Farmers, Pre-Classical River Valley Civilizations, the Hebrews, Ancient Greece, the Roman Republic, Christianity, the Roman Empire, the Dark Ages, Islam, the High Middle Ages, the Late Middle Ages

     10th Grade:        Modern Western Civilization (From the Renaissance through the Present, ~A. D. 1450 – Now)

Renaissance, Reformation, Age of Discovery, Scientific Revolution, Age of Absolutism, the Enlightenment, American & French Revolutions, Napoleonic Wars, Concert of Europe, the Industrial Revolution, Socialism & Communism, Romanticism, Nationalism, European Imperialism, World War I, the Inter-War Years,the Rise of Totalitarianism, National Socialism, Appeasement, World War II, the Cold War, Counter-Culture & Post-Modernism, the War on Terror, the Cybernetic Revolution, the Contemporary World

     11th Grade:        American & United States History I (From First Settlement through the Gilded Age, ~10,000 B. C. – ~1898)

     12th Grade:  United States History II (From the Spanish-American War through the Present, A. D. 1898 – Now)

Because they are new course proposals, a basic list of topics and epochs are included with each Western Civilization course.

The material currently taught in separate Social Studies courses, such as Civics, Economics, and United States Government & Politics, should be taught within the context of their historical significance.  For example, the Civics and U. S. Government curriculum which both focus on the study of the U. S. Constitution and the governmental structure of the American Republic should be taught systematically as relevant developments occurred in both the 11th and 12th Grade U. S. History course curricula.  Also, Economic theories should be taught as part of the eras in which they were developed and applied in all four courses, Grades 9-12.  More distinct courses, such as Psychology, can remain as Elective course options, as can a more thoroughgoing attempt to teach distinctive Non-Western Culture & Civilization within their own historical contexts.

The focus of both Western Civilization courses should be on the development of the distinct Judeo-Christian culture and civilization that developed from the early Greeks through contemporary Europe, the United States, and other Westernized regions of the world.  This is the mainstream culture and civilization within our American Republic, and children of all ethnic and religious heritages who live here are inheritors and custodians of this rich legacy. 

Only in the West was a coherent concept of inalienable Human Rights developed, and then used as a basis for effective institutions of free conscience and popular government.  Only the West developed the technologies that define contemporary post-Industrial lifestyles, cured Polio, put humans on the Moon, and built the worldwide web.

Other cultures and civilizations, for example the four thousand year history of China, the histories of Japan and India, the Islamic societies of Central and Western Asia, as well as the diverse cultures of Sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South America, Oceania, Australasia, and Southeast Asia should all be covered at analogous moments in history or at the first contacts between these societies and the West.  As their ongoing stories unfolds alongside that of the West, they will be covered as a part of Modern & contemporary Western Civilization as well as United States History.  However, the primary focus should be fixed on the Western narrative.

Respectfully Submitted,

Ralph K. Ginorio

History Teacher

Coeur d’Alene, ID  

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