For Mississippi high school students, the U.S. History “subject area test,” which they must take before graduating, starts in the 1870s.
On this test, according to the Mississippi Department of Education’s (MDE’s) “Student/Parent Information Guide,” you won’t find questions about George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. Nothing about the Declaration of Independence, the birth of the Constitution or the debates on the Bill of Rights. The Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and even the Civil War are all absent.
But a student will be considered “advanced” if he or she is able to “evaluate the response of American institutions such as government and non-profit organizations to environmental challenges.”
At a “basic” level of knowledge, students will be able to “Analyze evidence that the United States Constitution is a ‘living’ document.” Notice, they will only be asked to analyze evidence that it is, not the evidence that it is not, a document that can be changed without the consent of the people – which is the essence of the “living document” debate.
Such is the problem with focusing only on modern views of our country rather than seeing them in their historical context.