The Tea Party Rewrites The Constitution

Our guest blogger is Annabel Hogg, Special Assistant to the Domestic Policy team working with the Education, Health, and Women’s Rights departments.

The Tea Party movement has begun a disturbing new initiative to rewrite constitutional history in American classrooms.

The Georgia-based Tea Party Patriots group plans to “celebrate” our constitution’s anniversary on September 17 by pushing schools to incorporate lessons from the Idaho-based National Center for Constitutional Studies. This particular organization believes that the constitution was “divinely inspired.” Bill Norton, the leader of the Tea Party Patriot’s “Adopt a School” program, gives seminars around the country for the NCCS.

Glen Beck has praised the center’s founder, W. Cleon Skousen (b. 1913-d. 2006), who in the past made outrageous claims about American slave children being freer than white non-slave children and once called Jamestown’s original settlers “communists.”

“It’s indoctrination, not education. They’re so far from the mainstream of constitutional thought that they are completely indefensible,” said Doug Kendall, director of the Constitutional Accountability Center in Washington, D.C.

This is not the first time conservatives have tried to rewrite history. The notoriously conservative Texas Board of Education has tried to downplay the role of American Indians in American history in addition to trying to distort the history of the civil rights movement. It also attempted to amend the Texas curriculum to say that the civil rights movement created “unrealistic expectations of equal outcomes” among minorities.

Even elected officials such as vocal Tea Party Caucus founder Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) seem to think that it’s OK rewrite American history. While speaking to an anti-tax group in Iowa, Bachmann said the founding fathers ended slavery despite the fact that several were slave owners and that slavery was not abolished until after the American Civil War.

At time when studies show our nation’s children are already struggling in social studies, it is irresponsible to present classrooms with recognized misinformation. There are better ways to help students grasp a deeper analysis of historical events – for example, the movement toward Common Core Standards represents a serious effort to encourage critical thinking from students.

We cannot let our history be rewritten along partisan lines. It will come at the cost of our nation’s children understanding of their country’s past. In the end, the actions of Tea Party activists show that they are seeking to distort the very same document they claim to be protecting.