Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has long worried that schools aren’t teaching enough American history.
In winning an award from the Independent Women’s Forum last week, she noted, for example, that students can’t identify the Berlin Wall.
Then she added, “I recently had a revealing conversation with FBI Director Wray. He told me that many incoming FBI agents are so young, they don’t really know what happened on September 11, 2001. ‘Some people did something,’ we’ve heard it said,’” she quoted him saying.
Her comment came during a wide-ranging speech as she was addressing the inability by many to pick the schools their children attend, instead leaving it up to chance.
“I think of the parents who want to free their child from a school that’s failing them and are sometimes allowed by ‘the system’ to enter a lottery for only a few seats in a different school. Thousands of children vie for limited openings. The students are represented as numbered balls in a cage as if children and their futures are a bingo game. Their parents are devastated when their child’s number isn’t called, and they have no power to do anything about it. They are forced to stay in the school that doesn’t work,” said the education secretary.
“Is it any wonder then that there are two out of three students in this country who can’t read like they should? Two out of three who can’t add, subtract, divide, or multiply like they should. Two out of three who do not know — let alone understand — our country’s history like they should,” said Devos.
“Appallingly, 55% of high school seniors have what the researchers call a ‘below basic’ knowledge of American history. In the real world, that means more than half of our young men and women don’t know what the Lincoln-Douglas debates were about; they can’t identify that a photo labeled ‘Berlin 1989’ depicts the fall of the Berlin Wall; nor do they understand the significance of those momentous events,” she added.
After her comment about the FBI, she said, “We know that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. And doesn’t that precisely describe America’s antiquated approach to education?”