AMAC Exclusive by: Seamus Brennan
Over the past several months, the school curriculum has suddenly emerged as a major political battleground following months of strong grassroots resistance to the proliferation of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and other radical ideologies in classrooms. As parents of all political stripes have united to de-racialize their children’s education, Hillsdale College, long a pillar of honest academic inquiry in the increasingly radicalized world of higher education, has stepped in to not only combat CRT, but to restore the preeminence of traditional history and civics education.
Late last month, Hillsdale released its 1776 Curriculum, a new K-12 curriculum that seeks to immerse students in American history and the American political tradition by focusing on primary source documents and balanced commentary, rather than CRT and leftist-inspired narratives. “In history and civics classes, American students should have one aim above all: to understand what they have received, i.e., their inheritance as Americans,” Hillsdale’s website states. The curriculum prioritizes “knowledge and understanding of American history and of the American republic as governed by the Constitution and morally grounded in the Declaration of Independence.”
“Our curriculum was created by teachers and professors—not activists, not journalists, not bureaucrats,” Hillsdale’s Dr. Katherine O’Toole said in a press release. “It comes from years of studying America, its history, and its founding principles, not some slap-dash journalistic scheme to achieve a partisan political end through students. It is a truly American education.”
The 1776 Curriculum was inspired by the work of the 1776 Commission, a President Trump initiative that was cancelled by President Biden in his first few hours in office. The Commission was originally envisioned as a classical restatement of America’s founding principles by historians and scholars to counter a disfigured account of American history that “lacks perspective, obscures virtues, twists motives, ignores or distorts facts, and magnifies flaws.” On January 18 of this year, just two days before President Trump left office, the Commission released a detailed report that sought to refute “attempts that seek to reframe American history around the idea that the United States is not an exceptional country but an evil one.”
Dr. Matthew Spalding, former Executive Director of the 1776 Commission and Kirby Professor in Constitutional Government at Hillsdale College, told AMAC Newsline in an interview that although he was at first “taken aback” by the cancellation of the Commission,” he became “almost immediately thankful because by cancelling it, [Biden] actually brought more attention to the report” than he had perhaps anticipated. “What’s going on here is not a historical debate between one view of the Founding and another view of the Founding,” Spalding said. “Much of the approach of the 1619 Project and the current debate coming from CRT really has nothing to do with history, it’s more about fighting a current ideological battle. And they’re using history as a tool to fight current debates.”
Spalding noted that Hillsdale’s 1776 Curriculum seeks not only to counter the false narratives promoted by publications like the 1619 Project and radical ideologies like CRT, but also to heed the call of the 1776 Commission Report by teaching history that is “accurate, honest, unifying, inspiring, and ennobling.” In other words, Hillsdale’s curriculum is not just about countering the woke status quo in teaching history and civics, but also replacing it with a comprehensive program that adheres to America’s founding principles. Whereas CRT advocates make primarily ideological and political arguments in favor of their distorted vision of American history, Spalding said, the ideas embodied in both the Report and in Hillsdale’s new curriculum are grounded solely in history.
Hillsdale’s 1776 Curriculum consists of nearly 2,500 pages—including lesson plans and primary source documents—in addition to 20 units, 85 lessons, and an estimated 478 class periods’ worth of course material. Curriculum units for K-8 students include the American Founding, the American Civil War, the Declaration of Independence, and the United States Constitution, while high school units include the Principles of America, Equality in America, and Progressivism and the State. By the end of 2021, Hillsdale plans to add more units in American history ranging from Colonial America to the Cold War.
Though many progressives are quick to accuse efforts like the 1776 Curriculum of being ahistorical and indifferent to the evils of slavery, the Curriculum references slavery close to 2,000 times and condemns the practice as a “glaring” failure for America to live up to its “founding ideals.”
When asked how concerned parents can ensure their children are receiving a valid historical account of the Founding in the classroom, Dr. Spalding urged parents and other worried community members to remember that they have a say in school curriculum through elections for local officeholders and school board members: “One of the things the 1776 Report also pointed out was it reminded us that the federal government really has no role at all in curriculum matters. These are matters for states, for local school boards, for particular schools,” he said. “Parents should get involved in their schools, they should get involved in their school districts, they should be going to school board meetings, they should be actively involved in tracking what’s going on in their state legislatures.”
As parents become increasingly aware of the dangers of CRT and similar anti-American ideas that permeate their children’s classrooms, Hillsdale’s 1776 Curriculum provides a ready-made alternative that can equip students with a factual account of the nation’s founding, its heroes, and its history. For the millions of concerned Americans who hope to expel CRT from American education altogether, Hillsdale’s curriculum is a monumental step toward achieving that goal.
The 1776 Curriculum is free to the public and can be accessed on Hillsdale’s website.
We hope you've enjoyed this article. While you're here, we have a small favor to ask...
As we prepare for what promises to be a pivotal year for America, we're asking you to consider a gift to help fund our journalism and advocacy.
The need for fact-based reporting that offers real solutions and stops the spread of misinformation has never been greater. Now more than ever, journalism and our first amendment rights are under fire. That's why AMAC is passionately working to increase the number of real news articles we deliver WEEKLY, while continuing to strengthen our presence on Capitol Hill.
AMAC Action, a 501 (C)(4), advocates to protect American values, free speech, the exercise of religion, equality of opportunity, sanctity of life, the rule of law, and love of family.
Thank you for putting your faith in AMAC!Donate Now