Abraham Lincoln said, “The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation is the philosophy of government the next.”

Vladimir Lenin said, “Give us the child for eight years and it will be a Bolshevik forever.”

Each of those men, whose political philosophies were diametrically opposed, understood that education was the key to the national character. Lincoln believed in liberty while Lenin believed in the oppression of a totalitarian communist dictatorship with no liberty.

Those who believe in liberty support control of education by the state government. Those who believe in oppression espouse control of education by the federal government. In both cases, the government controls the content of the teaching of American history.

In Arizona, we elect our Superintendent of Public Education. At the federal level, the post is an appointed one. Therefore, it’s reasonable to believe the people of Arizona would have better control over the state’s education system than they would have over the federal education system.

In either instance, the teaching of American History is sadly wanting. There are textbooks in the schools which subtly inculcate students with the doctrine of socialism. The value of liberty is casually overlooked. Our Constitution is ignored. Our national standard of freedom and liberty for all is gradually being relegated to the dustbin of history because it isn’t taught any longer in our public schools. Sure, we recite the Pledge of Allegiance, but is the meaning truly understood?

During the administration of our current governor and two superintendents of education, our state has fallen prey to the federal government by abandoning our own education philosophy for that of the federal government’s philosophy, which is known as the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

Common Core supports the major subjects of reading, writing and arithmetic (which is a nightmare) while giving little or no attention to American history, the history of an exceptional nation. This travesty was going on long before CCSSI. The coup de grâce is CCSSI. Is there an agenda to abolish the notion the United States is exceptional?

The coming primary election gives us the opportunity to accept federal control of our education system by voting for the incumbent who defends CCSSI or by supporting his rival, Diane Douglas, who wants to bring control back to Arizona by repealing the Common Core program.

Federal control will bring oppression while state control should allow us to enjoy liberty a little longer.

As we struggle to maintain our liberty, the words of Patrick Henry make more sense than ever before...

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” (Patrick Henry, 1775).

Liberty can be maintained without firing a shot by changing the way American history is taught in our schools.

• Don Kennedy is a graduate of Dartmouth College with a degree in sociology. He has been a resident of Ahwatukee Foothills since 2002.

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