This Week's Poll


Learning from History

By Jeffry Boatright

If we have learned nothing else from the Coronavirus pandemic at this point, we have discovered that it has been accompanied by misconceptions and misinformation. We hear untruths and exaggerations from those who cultivate fear, but we are bombarded with propaganda and hearsay from those who minimize the threat. Most of us simply want to know the facts.

Unfortunately, most crises and current issues are usually distorted by deception and falsehoods. In time, we will return to our normal conversations. Political and sports talk will resume around the water cooler, and we’ll resume dialogues of how we think things should be in America.

In many cases, we’ll be just as far off base as one might be in speculating where we’re headed with this Coronavirus pandemic. Nonetheless, those conversations, which have been replaced with pandemic discussion, will trickle back into our daily lives. We will again talk about sports, Iran, North Korea, taxes, and even education.

Education, like Coronavirus, brings out the best and worst in conversations. Misconceptions and exaggerations run rampant when we discuss education today. That is not to say that people maliciously lie. Instead, the public is too often misinformed. Let’s consider the three subsequent statements.

Kids are no longer allowed to pledge allegiance to the American Flag in public schools.

Public schools no longer teach the Constitution nor explain the

Bill of Rights.
They’re no longer teaching history in public schools.

The three preceding statements are all false. Each school day still begins with the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag. United States history is included in the eighth-grade curriculum. Eighth-grade Students are taught our nation’s history through the Reconstruction Era following the Civil War. The high school curriculum envelops the Reconstruction Era to present day events. High school students are required to take an end of course exam, which is provided by the State of Florida. Teachers and district employees are not permitted to see those exams, but the Florida Department of Education does provide a set of standards to guide teachers’ instruction during the year.

There are 82 American History standards for high school students this year. To examine the social, political, and economic causes, course and consequences of the second Industrial Revolution that began in the late 19th century is just one example of those standards.

Students are taught civics in the seventh grade. They are also taught a United States Government course, along with Economics, in high school. An end of course exam accompanies the seventh-grade civics class. Each of these classes have a set of standards that are similar to the example given from American History.

Public schools are required to set aside a week each year, which coincides with Constitution Day on September 17, for specifically teaching students about the United States Constitution and other founding documents. Organizations often gift students with pocket Constitutions. Representatives from the Third Judicial Circuit visit local schools to reiterate the importance and uniqueness of our Constitution.

Chapter 1003 of the Florida Statutes requires that the Pledge of Allegiance is recited at the beginning of each school day. It states that each district school board may adopt rules to require, in all of the schools of the district, programs of a patriotic nature to encourage greater respect for the government of the United States and its national anthem and flag, subject always to other existing pertinent laws of the United States or of the state. When the national anthem is played, students and all civilians shall stand at attention, men removing the headdress, except when such headdress is worn for religious purposes. The pledge of allegiance to the flag, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” shall be rendered by students standing with the right hand over the heart. The pledge of allegiance to the flag shall be recited at the beginning of the day in each public elementary, middle, and high school in the state.

The text does go on to explain that students are to be informed by written notice that they have the right not to participate in reciting the pledge. Upon written request from the student’s parent, he or she must be excused from reciting the pledge.

If most of us are honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that history probably wasn’t our favorite subject in school. Students today are no different. Many students legitimately wonder why the past is so important. But we know that it is much more than just studying the past.

Understanding history affords us the opportunity to avoid costly future mistakes. Of course, we do not always regard the warnings that are etched in our history books, but they’re there. For many of us, studying history pays homage to the men and women from varied backgrounds who have sacrificed in so many ways to develop this great nation with opportunities for all. Finally, studying history and civics reinforces the rights that we cherish.

Through studying civics and history, we fully understand and appreciate our God-given rights that are guaranteed in the Constitutional Amendments.

History is made every second of every minute, and every minute of every day. Isn’t it intriguing to consider how historical data from today might prevent or help reduce the threat of future pandemics?

In the days to come, Coronavirus will dominate our conversations and lives. That is understandable. Now is the time to help other people, especially our senior population. If the elderly has ever needed us, they need us now.

When the pandemic wanes, however, and normalcy returns, let us encourage our youth to embrace that opportunity to pledge allegiance each morning to the flag representing this nation, which comes together in times of crises. Remind them of the importance of our history and help them understand what it means to be an American. Inspire them to be thankful for those generations before us who have tirelessly preserved our American Flag.