President Donald Trump on Thursday announced plans for a new commission to promote “patriotic education” in U.S. schools.
Speaking at the National Archives Museum, Trump signed an executive order establishing what he called the 1776 Commission, which is aimed at encouraging educators to teach about “the miracle of American history” and make plans in celebration of the 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States.
“The only path to national unity is through our shared identity as Americans,” Trump said during the event dubbed the White House Conference on American History. “That is why it is so urgent that we finally restore patriotic education to our schools.”
During the event, Trump also stated that the National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded a grant to support the development of a “pro-American curriculum” and that he previously signed an executive order to establish the National Garden of American Heroes, an outdoor park which will feature statue of figures from U.S. history.
He also highlighted his move earlier this month to direct federal agencies to stop all contracts and training on “White privilege,” and “critical race theory.”
Trump decried riots during protests throughout the nation calling for an end to systemic racism and police brutality as well as The New York Times’ 1619 Project, an ongoing initiative by the newspaper launched last year to reframe U.S. history by marking the year when enslaved Africans first arrived as the date of the nation’s founding.
“Whether it is the mob on the street, or cancel culture in the boardroom, the goal is the same: to silence dissent, to scare you out of speaking the truth and to bully Americans into abandoning their values, their heritage and their very way of life,” he said.
Chris Dier, Louisiana’s 2020 teacher of the year, said that Trump’s criticisms of the U.S. education system were misguided.
“I’m not teaching my students to hate America,” Dier told The Washington Post. “We are teaching our students to embrace our country, even the things that are negative. We’re choosing not to ignore the ghosts of our country’s past.”
Arne Duncan, who served as education secretary under former President Barack Obama, said that Trump has “no ability” to set curriculums in U.S. schools and that issues taught in classrooms are “always local decisions.”
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