The Founding Fathers understood government forms. What they meant by the term was the arrangement of power found in any civil society, whether monarchy, aristocracy, or democracy. This is what Thomas Jefferson meant when he wrote in the Declaration, “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it,” and “mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” The careful, prudent balancing of the forms of government in the U.S. Constitution—combining the energy of monarchy, the wisdom of aristocracy, and the accountability of democracy—is what effected the “Safety and Happiness” promised in the Declaration and made possible by winning the Revolution itself. So important is knowing our form of government for the flourishing of this republic that the Founding Fathers (Jefferson especially) considered a thorough study of history and civics in schools as indispensable for preserving our lives, our liberties, and indeed our happiness.
The new national educational regime called the Common Core does not intend for students to study those forms of government. In the middle school, the Common Core calls upon students to read only the First Amendment. Apparently the other Amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights, say the Second Amendment or the Tenth, would be too taxing for fourteen-year-old minds, even though the laws of many states require students of that age to study in every detail their own sexual constitutions. Nor do even high school students get the green light to study the whole Constitution, but at this point only the Bill of Rights. Now, admittedly, the eagerly awaited Common Core Standards for “social studies” may have students learn more about their government. But why then does the Common Core have students in English class read modern commentaries on the Constitution that employ phrases such as “master class,” “ugly,” and “vicious” unless to undermine the Constitution without bothering to read and understand it?
While the architects of the Common Core apparently do not want students to study the forms of government as understood by the Founding Fathers, they do want students studying another kind of government form with which we have become all too familiar. Here is a discussion that is supposed to take place between teacher and students in an American literature class in the eleventh grade as scripted in a Common Core textbook:
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