Op-ed: It’s Time to Strengthen—Not Reduce!—History in Our Classrooms

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This op-ed appeared in the print edition of American Heritage magazine (Volume 62 Issue 5), with a preface from the Editor. The op-ed also appeared in the MetroWest Daily News and Milford Daily News.
It is painful to see a state such as Massachusetts — so central to our Nation’s past — plan to cut back even more on the teaching of American history. In recent years renowned historical sites such as Old Sturbridge Village have reported a dramatic decrease in visits by students because of a reduced emphasis on teaching history in schools (despite the efforts of many dedicated teachers), and an increase in paperwork to justify field trips. (Parenthetically, American Heritagewas launched in 1949 at Old Sturbridge Village, which still guards the original carved eagle used for our logo in its collections. This semester they launched another ambitious venture, the Old Sturbridge Village Charter School.)
We asked Tom Birmingham, former president of the Massachusetts State Senate and co-author of the landmark Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993, to weigh in on the current situation in his state.  The Editors

This week we marked the 230th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. Sadly, this is one of the many facts of which students in our public schools are largely unaware. It’s long past time for that to change.

In recent years, much effort has rightfully been devoted to improving math and science education, while U.S. history education has been marginalized. Consequently, American students score better in math and science than they do in civics on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Read more, here.

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