Everything New Under the Sun

Surfing the web, I came across a clever name for an Ohio secondhand resale shop: Its New to Me. Makes sense. After all, if a person was unaware of something, upon discovery, it would be new to them. Because schools have failed to provide adequate instruction, “It’s new to me” is what a growing number of tomorrow’s American adults will say when encountering history and civics.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) quadrennial release of the “Nation’s Report Card” shows a precipitous decline in eighth graders’ proficiency in history and civics; and, consequently, a prospective boon for further leftist indoctrination.

With a hat tip to American Greatness’ writer Eric Lendrum, the state-subsidized NPR bears the bad news to America’s parents and citizens: 

[The 2022] history scores are the lowest recorded since the assessment began in 1994, and the new data mark the first-ever drop in civics . . . continuing a downward trend that began in 2014. Only 14% of students reached at or above ‘proficient’ mark in history, and in civics only 22% of students met the same benchmark.

These declines followed previous declines in fourth- and eighth-graders’ reading and math proficiency. This constitutes a significant problem, as Kerry Sautner, the chief learning officer at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, noted: “How are we going to mitigate this when we have significant drops in everything?”

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona cited the COVID-19 pandemic as a significant reason for the students’ declining proficiency. Of course, he eschewed allotting any blame to those who ignored the science and demanded the prolonged closure of schools. 

Instead, he pounced upon conservatives who propose solutions, such as school choice, to the problem of students’ declining proficiency in not only history and civics but in reading and math as well. Opined Cardona: “Now is not the time for politicians to try to extract double-digit cuts to education funding. Nor is it the time to limit what students learn in U.S. history and civics classes.”

Or, as a friend wryly translated to me: “Now is not the time to stop subsidizing failure!”

The secretary’s obtuse pandering to the teachers’ unions will only perpetuate the problem and is, ergo, illogical and injurious. But that is if and only if one views students’ plummeting proficiency in history and civics as a problem—indeed, an existential problem for a constitutional republic. 

But despite their crocodile tears, the Left could not be happier. What could please them more than dispensing with the rights, protections, checks and balances of our constitutional republic, boiling them down into a crude equation of “might makes right” whenever over 50 percent of ballots concur in Our Democracy™ (with the little-noticed caveat that it only applies if the Left wins)?

Consider how, throughout the (mostly peaceful) leftist riots, one of the abiding goals was the erasure of history, denigrating and delegitimizing America and the entirety of Western Civilization as one form of “-ism” or another. But it takes a lot of time to deface and erase history, and the Left is in a hurry to transform America. It takes far less effort to indoctrinate a prospective recruit if he has no historical knowledge to erase.

Similarly, if a prospective recruit has no understanding of the God-given, constitutionally recognized and protected rights and duties one possesses as an American citizen, that person is far more likely to self-immolate his liberty and prosperity in the service of imposing the Left’s ideological fantasy. As Bob Dylan wrote, “When you ain’t got nothin’, you got nothin’ to lose.” 

Except you do. At stake is the power to promote and defend one’s pursuit of happiness and sovereignty over the governmental servants, and, in sum, one’s innate dignity and agency as a child of God. As we learn from Ecclesiastes:

What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun!
Even the thing of which we say, “See, this is new!” has already existed in the ages that preceded us.
There is no remembrance of past generations; nor will future generations be remembered by those who come after them.

There is no novel knowledge that empowers flawed humanity to perfect itself and create a new Eden. There are verities and virtues eternally contesting with falsehoods and follies, lies, and vices. This wisdom is foundational to our constitutional republic, instructing all the rights and duties inherent within it. 

But what happens without a rudimentary knowledge of history and civics, let alone this guiding wisdom? When everything is new under the sun, there is only the disordering ignorance of the radical, who is hellbent on creating an illusory “new” utopia by destroying the permanent pillars of American life: faith, family, community, and country. The result is not liberation, but subjugation. 

No, there is nothing new under the sun. The question is whether the sun is rising or setting on our constitutional republic.

Oh, that Ohio resale shop? It closed this year. 

Get the news corporate media won't tell you.

Get caught up on today's must read stores!

By submitting your information, you agree to receive exclusive AG+ content, including special promotions, and agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms. By providing your phone number and checking the box to opt in, you are consenting to receive recurring SMS/MMS messages, including automated texts, to that number from my short code. Msg & data rates may apply. Reply HELP for help, STOP to end. SMS opt-in will not be sold, rented, or shared.

About Thaddeus G. McCotter

An American Greatness contributor, the Hon. Thaddeus G. McCotter (M.C., Ret.) represented Michigan’s 11th Congressional district from 2003 to 2012 and served as Chair of the Republican House Policy Committee. Not a lobbyist, he is a frequent public speaker and moderator for public policy seminars, and a Monday co-host of the "John Batchelor Show" among sundry media appearances.

Photo: iStock/Getty Images

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.