Don’t Water Down Lake City Learning

WEDNESDAY, FEB. 18, 1998

Understandably, Coeur d’Alene officials are worried about neo-Nazis marching down Sherman Avenue.

For years, the Aryan Nations has tried to tap the same hatred and ignorance that brought Hitler to power. Richard Butler’s group represents the evils that Americans bled and died from 1941 to 1945 to stop: Fascism. Prejudice. Aggression. The Holocaust. Baby Boomers learned about the horror caused by Nazi Germany from parents and in school. Now, they must wonder, who is going to warn their children and grandchildren?

It may not be the Coeur d’Alene School District.

Last week, the district’s Graduation Requirement Committee recommended that freshman geography and sophomore world history be dropped as graduation requirements. The panel’s goal was laudable - to provide more flexibility for career-oriented electives. However, this is a short-sighted way to achieve that goal. Students, particularly those who aren’t college bound, should be exposed to the ideas and movements that formed world history in general and U.S. history in particular. A worker on an assembly line doesn’t need to know much about Bosnia or Iraq to make widgets. But he should know something about our dangerous world in order to vote for candidates who will negotiate international trade agreements, treaties and possibly send his children to war.

“Kids need to be more world-oriented than ever before,” said Fred Patano, chairman of the Lake City High social studies department. “And I don’t think we need to dumb down for electives.”

Most high schoolers, of course, won’t take the two standard courses unless they’re required to do so. “Why take history when you could take painting or pottery?” asked LCHS student president Ben Bryan. But freshmen who choose not to take world history may learn why years later, when it’s too late, when they need it to enter college. All students should take these courses.

In the mid-1960s, baby boomers sang along with Herman’s Hermits: “Don’t know much about history/Don’t know much biology/Don’t know much about a science book/Don’t know much about the French I took/But I do know that I love you/And I know that if you love me, too/What a wonderful world this would be.”

Don’t laugh. “(What A) Wonderful World” soon may be the school song in Coeur d’Alene high schools.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = D.F. Oliveria/For the editorial board

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