Memorial Day is a time to reflect on the men and women who have courageously defended the ideals and freedoms that Americans hold so dear. We also view it as a poignant reminder that we must ensure our children are learning about the important events and principles that have shaped our nation.
For many years, we have been calling on our policy leaders to ensure that our future generations receive more instruction in Civics and U.S. History. In late 2012, a state commission recommended making passage of a U.S. History MCAS test a high school graduation requirement for Massachusetts public school students. The commission’s report cited a Pioneer Institute poll that found that the commonwealth’s parents, teachers, and legislators all support restoring the U.S. History MCAS graduation requirement, which had long been planned to go into effect, but was dropped by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in 2009. It is time for our education leaders to make U.S. History instruction a priority once again.
Pioneer Institute has actively promoted rigorous, content-based academic standards that include U.S. History and civics instruction, publishing reports and polling on the lack of understanding of U.S. History:
- Imperiling the Republic: The Fate of U.S. History Instruction under Common Core
- Shortchanging the Future: The Crisis of History and Civics in American Schools
- The Rise and Fall of the Study of American History in Massachusetts
- Polling data show that Massachusetts parents, teachers, and state lawmakers support restoring the state assessment in US History as a graduation requirement.
Pioneer has sponsored a U.S. History essay contest for Massachusetts high school students, and hosted numerous events featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. historians and nationally-recognized figures on the Founding era and slavery, the Civil War, World War II, the Civil Rights era, the Supreme Court, Women’s history, the Cold War, and more. Some of our distinguished co-sponsors include organizations such as the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Concord Review, We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution, the American Principles Project, the National Association of Scholars, the Museum of World War II – Boston, the New England Churchillians, and many more.
Read some of our op-eds and media appearances here:
Just last week, Tom Birmingham, Pioneer Distinguished Senior Fellow in Education and Former Mass. Senate President, joined Former Mass. Governor Michael Dukakis on WBZ‘s “Nightside with Dan Rea” to discuss the need for Civics in our classrooms. You can listen to the segments below or read their op-ed in The Boston Globe.
We continue pressing on this issue because we believe strongly that our future generations cannot fully participate in American democracy – or fully appreciate the sacrifices made on their behalf – without a solid background in U.S. History and Civics, and as we know from our many discussions with teachers, what isn’t tested, isn’t taught.