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Knowledge of history, government lacking

Knowledge of history, government lacking

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David Broder's recent column (Page A6, April 25) describing the deficiencies in the education of our youth where civics - I would add history - are concerned raises serious questions that are not of recent origin.

During the late '40s, through the '50s and into the early '60s, John Kinneman, then chairman of Illinois State University's Social Science Department, often voiced concern that high schools in Illinois - and probably many other states - frequently bypassed hiring young teachers with majors in social science - civics, history, economics - in favor of those with minors in social science but a major in another field to fill in other duties.

Usually, the social science minors were not nearly as qualified, nor possessed the passion for their subject, that the majors would demonstrate. At the time, the results were subtle and often disregarded by administrators, school boards and community.

Sadly, "the chickens may have come home to roost." The manifestation of these decades-long practices is evident today in a woeful lack of understanding of government and history by the general public.

Is the Jay Leno Show any true indication of America's knowledge of history and government?

How many folks understand the significance of Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler in the late 1930s - 1938?

How many folks understand why the United States entered either World War I or II? Some folks may say, "Who cares?" That response in itself is very sad.

A wise and astute person once observed "The past is prologue" and as Americans we had better start to try and understand that.

Jack Cullen



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