Op-Ed: Public schools must shape kids who love America and our founding

Monday, August 02, 2021

By Sen. Josh Hawley | Published on August 1, 2021 | New York Post

Parents know something is wrong. It’s why they are showing up in droves at school-board meetings across the nation. They are sending a message. They don’t want their children taught that the true founding of America came in 1619, or that America is a systemically racist place, or that most Americans are ­oppressors. They don’t want their children taught lies. And they are right. 

Sometimes, these lies go by the name “critical race theory,” a pet project of the left that ­began, as many bad ideas do, in the academy and has spread in recent years across corporate America and into school curricula. Sometimes the lies are called “anti-racism.” 

Whatever the label, the central principles are the same. These doctrines teach that American society is structurally oppressive, that our culture is shot through with racism and other forms of bigotry, and that most Americans are complicit in racial oppression, knowingly or not. 

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Let’s be clear. This isn’t a ­nation of oppressors. This is a nation of liberators. This is the country founded on the worth and dignity of every individual. This is the country that gave working people the right to vote. This is the country that freed the slaves. This is the ­nation that has brought more good to the planet than any other people in history. 

And it is time we defend that being taught in school. Critical race theory in any guise is a toxin. It poisons the bloodstream of our national life and drives Americans further apart. Sometimes, it seems that this is just what its advocates want: ­division, anger, hatred. But that isn’t what America needs. America needs the truth, ­because it’s the truth about our history and our purpose that unites us as a nation. 

That’s why I’m proposing a bill to require every school district in America that receives taxpayer money to teach our kids the founding documents and principles of this country.

[. . .]

Why anyone would object to this most basic of civics education is hard to fathom. That so many on the left do reveals how confused they have become. In recent days, leftist commentators have accused me of “whitewashing” American history and advocating “indoctrination” akin to the Chinese Cultural Revolution. 

Just to state the accusations is to expose their absurdity. Teaching our kids the actual documents that express the true principles that make us Americans isn’t whitewashing. It is ­education. It used to be seen as one of the central purposes of public schools. And teaching children to love America isn’t indoctrination. It’s what binds us together as citizens. 

The left increasingly vilifies America’s history and purpose. Leftists advocate for tearing it all down — both literally, with violent riots masquerading as “social justice,” and figuratively, by casting the institutions of our culture as oppressive, from the family to religious faith. Americans increasingly see this assault on our common life ­together for what it is — an attempt to utterly remake America — and reject it. We can’t ­allow this agenda of destruction and rage to succeed. 

The true principles on which this country was founded have inspired generations. And they summon us still toward great deeds. Every school boy and girl has the right to claim them as his or her heritage. And all school children should learn them as their own.

This is my conviction: Our children can perform wonders we haven’t yet imagined. They can write a future for this country beyond anything we have dared to dream. But first they must know who they are, and who we are together, as a ­nation. This is an investment in the future that will yield a ­remarkable return. It’s an ­investment of love. Let’s make it together —and now. Let’s teach our children to know and love America.