How to Take Back American History – By Stanley Kurtz (National Review) / Sept 24 2020
Our schools have buried the glory and beauty of America’s story under a mountain of misplaced guilt and tendentious ideology. Yes, there are faults in our story — the stain of slavery above all. Yet the weight and significance of our tale lay in the striving to overcome our failings. American history is, in part, the chronicle of our attempts to more perfectly realize the principles of liberty and equality that inspired our founding. There is a way for America’s schools to grasp this truth and again impart an honest and confident pride in our story. That path emerged last week when President Trump spoke at the National Archives. Yet the full significance of the education strategy laid out by the president has been missed.
President Trump’s remarks were delivered at the White House Conference on American History. So far, news out of that event has highlighted the president’s intention to appoint a 1776 Commission to forward patriotic education in our nation’s schools. That is only a part of the picture, however. The fuller story emerges when you attend to the conference that preceded the president’s address, and to an important yet overlooked moment in his remarks.
The White House Conference on American History helped to introduce a new solution to the decline of history education in this country. American Achievement Testing (AAT), a new non-profit company, has formed an alliance with the historian Wilfred McClay, whose extraordinary new American history textbook, Land of Hope, is unlike any text currently available. In partnership with the National Association of Scholars (NAS), AAT recently received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), to design instructional materials for K–12 U.S. history courses, with Land of Hope as their core text. Theodor Rebarber, CEO of AAT, Wilfred McClay, author of Land of Hope, and Peter Wood, president of NAS, all spoke at the White House Conference on American history, as did Jordan Adams, who supervises history instruction at the system of charter schools associated with Hillsdale College, where Land of Hope is used as a text. (Other presentations less directly related to AAT’s project are well worth watching.) President Trump touted the NEH grant during his speech and asked Rebarber, McClay, and Wood to stand and be recognized. (You can see a video of the conference, with talks by Wood, McClay, Rebarber, Adams, and others here, and video of the president’s remarks here.) AAT’s U.S. history course materials — and the way they will be adopted — hold the key to the president’s new education reform plans.
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