Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Keep 'America' in Michigan schools

Detroit News reported Censoring the word "America" from our own schools is something Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden would never have thought possible. Michigan has done it without a whimper. In perhaps a well-intentioned, but pernicious example of political correctness, the Michigan Department of Education is attempting to ban the "America" and "American" from our public schools. Even though the word "America" appears in the department's own civics and government benchmarks, the department's style protocol for the Michigan Education Assessment Program requires that "America" and "Americans" be expunged from our testing and grade level expectations. Last week, the department ordered that our hard-working teachers not utter the words.

That is absolutely stupid.
The Department of Education asserts that "Americans" includes Mexicans, Canadians and others in the Western Hemisphere, so referring to U.S. residents as Americans is inappropriate. In the department's view, "America" happens to include South, Central and North America.
Americas does refer to all of them, but America does not.
Accordingly, when referring to the colonial period, the state bureaucracy requires teachers to refer to "the colonies of North America" or "North Americans." After the American Revolution, the nation is called the United States (not of America).
The proper name is United States of America.
The state's edict would be laughable if it were not so disgraceful. Instead of focusing on better teaching methods and educational resources to help our hard-working teachers and parents, the Department of Education spends its energy on confusing, misleading, historically inaccurate and counterproductive wordplay.
Anything other than teaching students what they need to know.
One can only imagine how teachers struggle to meet the semantic dictates of an educational bureaucracy gone awry. According to the department, before the American Revolution, George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were North Americans. But so were the French colonists in the Louisiana Territory, the Spanish settlers in Mexico and the British colonists in Canada -- not to mention the Native Americans.

After the American Revolution, the Founding Fathers no longer qualified as North Americans, but apparently the British, Spanish, French and Native Americans did. What people in the United States are to be called after the Revolution is not clear, so long as they are not referred to as Americans.

Although the style protocol does not require educators to change formal titles such as "America the Beautiful," the students will apparently now believe the song is about a hemisphere and not a nation. The American Revolution is now the North American Revolution.
Little did the writers of the Contract with America in 1994 realize that they were making an agreement with Mexico and Canada. The Voice of America obviously is broadcasting the inspirational messages of Brazil and Belize across the globe.

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