Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when the rising generation is taught love of country. There are numerous sources in the United States that are teaching students of all ages that our nation is bad and that they need to fight against authority. However, there are few students of any age that are gaining basic knowledge about the United States.
I watched a video of a roving reporter asking college and/or high school students basic questions, such as who won the Civil War, when the nation became independent, and the name of the current Vice President. It was dismally small percentage that knew the answer to any question. Yet these same students are part of the generation that is being used by individuals and organizations that are trying to overthrow the government.
Many people complain about public education and what their children are learning in public schools. However, there are apparently no complaints at a public charter school in Phoenix, Arizona, known as Benchmark. Karin McQuillan says that the school was started by two teachers who saw a need and decided to do something about it. The teachers invested their own money to buy the land and buildings as well as much sweat equity and hard work.
Benchmark is a charter school, and students are selected by a lottery. “The tuition is paid for by taxes, but as a charter, Benchmark has independence from the public school system. Benchmark achieves academic excellence. The school scores are almost twice the state average – 96% scores in science, for example – but equally important is teaching character.” One of the founders claims, “Everyone can tell a Benchmark student. Our students are kind, they are respectful, they are caring, and they love their country.”
So, how does this charter school turn out such good citizens? They teach patriotism. They start the school year by teaching the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance and teach the meaning of the words. The grades take turns sending a child to the office to lead the Pledge of Allegiance over the P.A. system.
On 9/11 the school raises two brand new flags in remembrance, and the children sing patriotic songs. At the end of the year each of two students who are recognized as “good citizens” receive a flag to take home. In October the students collect peanut butter and jelly for military troops. For Veterans Day the school invites a veteran into each classroom to share his experience and sacrifices. At Thanksgiving the students learn about the Pilgrims and what they did for America.
In December the students and their families volunteer to purchase wreaths and then go to the National Memorial Cemetery to place them on the graves of veterans. About 150 families participate each year to purchase and place 400-500 wreaths. For Christmas every two classrooms adopt a military family, and the students buy Christmas gifts and food for the kids and family.
Students at the school write essays for Veterans Day and Memorial Day. Ten of the students are chosen to present their essays at a school assembly. They also compete with history essays with various organizations.
Patriotism is taught by the décor in each classroom. It could be a poster of Uncle Sam asking, “What Are You Doing to Protect the Constitution?” Pictures of the current U.S. President and the Founding Fathers as well as the Pledge of Allegiance, Declaration of Independence, and the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution can also be found on the walls of various classrooms.
Benchmark is the type of school that I would like my grandchildren to attend. It teaches the students in many ways that they are lucky to be living in the United States and to be grateful for this great nation. Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when children are taught patriotism and love of nation.