CHICAGO -- A Pew Research Center report -- "Second-Generation Americans: A Portrait of the Adult Children of Immigrants" -- recently verified something that has been the case throughout most of the nation's history: Children who grow up in this country become proud Americans.
Prepare for that to change.
I say this as a daughter of immigrants who, like roughly six out of 10 adult children of these newcomers, considers herself a "typical American." And like the overwhelming majority of second-gen Hispanics and Asians, I also believe the holiest of America's promises -- that most people can get ahead if they're willing to work hard.
My peers and I didn't get this way just based on our parents' sunny dispositions. It was drilled into us by that great assimilation machine called public school. It's an education system that, as I learned while earning a graduate degree in education, has its roots in the mission to teach students patriotism and moral values.
Well, just forget about it these days. Morals are not something that schools want to touch with a 10-foot pole. Even the watered-down character programs -- such as "Character Counts!" -- seem to be going extinct in favor of more general campaigns that merely implore students to "Just Be Nice" or put their "Values in Action!"
And patriotism in school is dead.
Take this headline that came to me from the Education Action Group Foundation, which has been described as either a promoter of sensible education reform or a tool of the far-right fringe, "Radical education officials try to impose anti-American curriculum."
The e-blast claimed that Minnesota's education officials are proposing new social studies standards that would "no longer require students to learn about Martin Luther King Jr., the War on Terror, the Soviet Union or the importance of patriotism."
"Students would be required to learn about America's 'institutional racism,' 'the rise of big business,' and the problems posed by an 'unregulated capitalist economy.' In other words, some want to change the curriculum so history instructors teach children that the United States is a bad country with an evil past."
A level-headed independent thinker might wonder if such heated rhetoric is nothing more than the bizarre assertions of Ayn Rand-worshiping conservatives. But this doesn't mean there isn't some truth to it.
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