In a controversial statement on September 17th, President Trump declared his intention to install a commission for “patriotic education” and a grant to create a “pro-American curriculum.” This commission entitled the “1776 Commission” is in response to the push to better acknowledge the history of slavery and systemic racism against racial minorities, which Trump describes “a form of child abuse”.
In his speech at the National Archives and Records Administration, Trump condemned the “web of lies” that he believes are being taught in U.S. classrooms in a narrative pushed by Democratic opponents.
This tension between Democrats and Republicans over the teachings of American history in classrooms has been increased by the recent removals of many statues across the nation that memorialized slave owners. In addition, the Black Lives Matter movement’s powerful resurgence after the death of George Floyd has further heightened tensions with conservatives, as they condemn the calls for systemic change.
The Republican party, along with the Trump administration, has been pushing back at this movement with claims of necessitating patriotic education, as they believe that showing America in a bad light will ruin the country and create further activists for systemic change.
Trump continued his speech citing the “radical” Democrats’ longtime indoctrination at schools, which he claims have repressed traditional faith and values, alluding to Christianity and the separation of religious teachings in public education. The president stated, “our youth will be taught to love America”, and this sentiment is widely shared by many conservatives who have grown resentful at the increased criticisms of slave owning founding fathers, and of the references to white privilege.
However, the federal government does not have power over the school curriculum as state rights are highlighted in the 10th Amendment. Therefore, this development will no doubt be followed by court cases filed to sort out the administration’s jurisdiction on national education.