Hearken back to junior high and high school for a moment. What
“historical documents” were you taught in social studies and American history
classes? The U.S. Constitution? Your state’s constitution? What
about the Declaration of Independence or the Federalist Papers? The
Northwest Ordinance (especially if you grew up in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois,
Michigan, Wisconsin, or Minnesota)?
My entire K-12 education was in Ohio public schools. When it came to
history, I didn’t take any electives or special courses beyond whatever was
required for me to earn a diploma. Yet, I was taught all of these
important historical texts, multiple times, from seventh grade through
twelfth. So I was surprised to see a bill
moving through the Ohio legislature that would require schools to teach what I
thought were standard fare for Ohio’s students. In fact, at first blush it
seemed implausible to me that many schools weren’t already doing so.
My husband, also an Ohio public school alum (from a quote-unquote better
district than I attended), had a different reaction when I told him about the
legislation. He guessed at least two-thirds of students learn virtually nothing
about the Federalist Papers in high school. And he said he wasn’t taught
anything about the Ohio Constitution in K-12. Huh, maybe there ought to
be a law.
This issue isn’t a new one for Fordham. The bill’s sponsor in the Ohio