Once again, Idaho’s entrenched Educational establishment has demonstrated its active hostility to the values held dear by most Idahoans. On 9/12/20, in a 14-0 (with 3 “neutral” votes) decision, the Idaho School Boards Association’s Executive Committee voted down a measure designed to establish a Western Civilization component to Idaho’s High School Standards. This vote was not merely an expression of neutrality towards the notion. In the words of Nezperce School Board member Ken Hart, the ISBA did not want to give any impression that they were open to such a notion.
A lobbying group for all Public School districts and many (but not all) Charter Schools, the ISBA’s Executive Committee is composed of members elected by School Boards from regions around the state. This body does not itself set policy, but it exists to exert influence over state educational legislation and to manipulate public opinion.
Michelle Lippert of Post Falls School District concisely summed up the negative votes’ contention that Western Civilization need not be systematically taught; because it is “the dominant culture”. There are several state standards that mandate a detailed study of Native tribal customs and symbols, but none dealing with how the West uniquely constructed a functional system of freedom. Several more focus on the struggles of indigenous peoples against the West, but nothing on the qualities within the West that led it to be both the first global and the first industrial civilization.
In our American Republic, we are neither unified by a shared bloodline nor by long holding a common homeland. Cultural ideas, as expressed in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution hold us together. These ideas did not just spring into being in the late 1700s. Our Founders were inheritors of notions of freedom that had been percolating in Europe and the Near East for at least three thousand years. One cannot really understand America without first understanding Judaism, Greece, Rome, Christianity, Medieval Christendom, and England. In these crucibles, our notions of freedom were forged.
A mutual love of individual freedom and personal choice help Americans make common cause. Public Schools were established to ensure that the children of an immigrant nation developed a distinct understanding of what it means to be an American. Only through a serious commitment to teaching the history behind these shared ideals will a recognizably free American Republic survive.
The ISBA is merely the most recent institution to express hostility to this fundamental educational mission of acculturation through historical education. For many reasons, in the century since Progressive Education Guru John Dewey, American schools and their stewards have gone increasingly off-mission. Citizens, through their representatives and perhaps through a statewide initiative, need to reclaim their schools from ideologically-driven Oligarchs and their policies of socially re-engineering our society into their utopia.