"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Message to DESE: "Occupy Mayflower". Teach THIS to Missouri Students.

What is the purpose of DESE? From its Mission Statement:

The mission of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is to guarantee the superior preparation and performance of every child in school and in life.

How does DESE guarantee" the superior preparation and performance of every child in school and life"? We've had issues with DESE's standards (particularly Social Studies and its skewed version of history) and the emphasis the department places on international education vs learning about America's laws and founding principles.

As we near Thanksgiving, I wondered what students in Missouri might be learning about the landing by the Pilgrims and other settlers from England. Would they be learning this was in fact a "divided" community (Puritans vs non-Puritans) in which the people had to design their own form of self-government to live peaceably?

The roving and increasingly scattered population found it difficult to attend the General Court, as the governing meetings at Plymouth came to be called. By 1639, deputies were sent to represent each town at the other General Court sessions. Not only self-rule, but representative government had taken root on American soil.

I can't tell from the DESE Special Calendar of Events that the department has any interest in teaching why Americans celebrate Thanksgiving or the importance of the Mayflower Compact (image above). The link to "Thanksgiving" leads to this:

Public holidays.

9.010. The first day of January, the third Monday of January, the twelfth day of February, the third Monday in February, the eighth day of May, the last Monday in May, the fourth day of July, the first Monday in September, the second Monday in October, the eleventh day of November, the fourth Thursday in November, and the twenty-fifth of December, are declared and established public holidays; and when any of such holidays falls upon Sunday, the Monday next following shall be considered the holiday. There shall be no holiday for state employees on the fourth Monday of October.

The only mention of Thanksgiving on the website is the regulation deeming it a holiday for the citizens. Why is the Mayflower Compact important in 2011 anyway? Since DESE teaches students they live in a "constitutional democracy" then I propose DESE downplays (or ignores) the historical knowledge of the reasons the Puritans made the trip. How society was formed with Puritans and non-Puritans alike is not worth mentioning even though it impacted the governing structures of the country in the future.

What does DESE mention on its site for students, educators and parents? What DOES DESE find important to highlight on its calendar with information and teaching resources? (Here are some sites with accompanying information through 2011):

June 5 World Environment Day
June 12-16 National History Day Contest
August 1-31 Children's Eye Health and Safety Month
August 26 Women's Equality Day
September 1-30 Library Card Sign-Up Month
National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month
September 8 International Literacy Day
Sept. 11-17 National Arts in Education Week
September 11 Grandparents' Day
September 16 Constitution Day
September 24 Worldwide Day of Play
September 26 Family Day
October 1-31 Disability History and Awareness Month and UNICEF Month
October 6 Read for the Record
October 9-15 Fire Prevention Week and National Educational Office Professionals Career
National Metric Week
National DECA Week
October 20 Lights On Afterschool
October 22 Make a Difference Day
October 23-31 Red Ribbon Week
October 24 United Nations Day
November 13-19 American Education Week (Nov. 16-Education Support Professionals Day; Nov. 18-Substitute Educators Day)
November 14-18 International Education Week
December 1 World AIDS Day

These sites have information primarily from lobbying groups (such as the NEA and the American Library Association) or federal government sites. The sites with no information except the notation that it is a holiday set by either the state or federal government include:

June 14 Flag Day
July 4 Independence Day
July 27 Korean War Veterans Day
September 5 Labor Day
September 11 Schools must display flags at half-staff for September 11 Anniversary
Emergency Services Day
Emergency Personnel Appreciation Day
September 16 POW/MIA Recognition Day
September 17-23 Constitution Week (September 17-Citizenship Day)
October 10 Columbus Day
October 19 Missouri Day
November 11 Veterans Day
December 7 Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

Schools must display flags at half-staff

A few thoughts come to mind while comparing those holidays or special days/week and wondering why some have teaching resources/information and others are just noted with the legal notice from state laws:

  • Is DESE is too incompetent to write up information on holidays such as Independence Day, POW/MIA Recognition Day, Veteran's Day, Pearl Harbor Day and September 11? Wouldn't it be a good idea to explain on the calendar WHY flags are being flown half-mast on that date? Why is "Grandparent's Day" given a link with resources on September 11 but the explanation of what happened on that date (with nearly 3,000 people dying in a terrorist attack) is not mentioned?
  • Does DESE believe in American exceptionalism? If so, why are the resources scant for those holidays recognizing that trait of our founding documents and persons exemplifying this belief?
  • DESE highlights the increasingly centralization and special interest lobbies present in education. Read the mission of the UN under the United Nations Day link: "Let us unite, seven billion strong, in the name of the global common good."

    Message for UN Day 2011 by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Does The Mayflower Compact and its importance in American governmental structure pale by comparison to the "global common good"? Our students are not learning so much about America, rather, they are learning how to become "good global citizens" and focus on the "global common good". I wonder what William Bradford would think about this turn of events. I wonder if Missouri students even know who William Bradford was and his important contributions via the Mayflower Compact.

DESE has seemingly forgotten why and how we are founded. What's listed on its calendar and what is linked (and what is not) does not place much emphasis on American history. To remedy this turning away from America, DESE should teach "Occupy Mayflower". It would be a study of how a representative government was created and how that representative government formed our future historical documents. Looking at this calendar, a taxpayer would think the Missouri standards are currently concentrated primarily on global studies, special interests and social justice. I doubt this is education that will
"guarantee the superior preparation and performance of every child in school and in life."

1 comment:

  1. DESE supports Global Governance which is a system that limits the behavior of individuals, which is a politically correct way of saying that global governance is a system that restricts individual freedom. A system that restricts freedom is a system that governs the people.

    "To achieve world government, it is necessary to remove from the minds of men their individualism, loyalty to family traditions, national patriotism, and religious dogmas." -Brock Adams, Director UN Health Organization


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