Trump issued an executive order to form a committee that aims to increase patriotism in education. Illustration by Junanna Chen.
Fountain Valley High School

Trump establishes 1776 Commission for history education

President Donald Trump issued an executive order Nov. 2 forming the 1776 Commission, an advisory committee in the Department of Education to promote what he refers to as “patriotic education.”

According to the order, the apparent purpose of the commission is raise a generation with a better understanding of the history of America’s foundation in 1776.

This decision reflects Trump’s criticisms of how the 1619 Project, started by The New York Times to examine the history and effects of slavery in America, portrays United States history.

“Despite the virtues and accomplishments of this Nation, many students are now taught in school to hate their own country, and to believe that the men and women who built it were not heroes, but rather villains,” the order states. “This radicalized view of American history lacks perspective, obscures virtues, twists motives, ignores or distorts facts and magnifies flaws, resulting in the truth being concealed and history disfigured.”

The order goes on to favor an optimistic take on American history, one that will reflect lessons of Americans overcoming “great national challenges,” and provide access to what unified our history.

Although Trump wrote that the “role of the Federal Government is to protect and preserve State and local control” in education, he and other Republican politicians have threatened to defund schools that choose to incorporate the 1619 Project into their curriculums.

For some history teachers at Fountain Valley High School, the 1776 Commission seems unnecessary due to California standards for learning history.

“California state standards and framework already explores the concept of patriotism,” social studies teacher and department coordinator Julie Chaicharee said. “Social Studies courses in high school investigate ways in which various groups of Americans contested and shaped freedom from the founding of our republic through today.”

Chaicharee added that students are taught many skills in their social studies classes alongside history.

“Our students are taught to think critically, ask for evidence, check sources to research the various ways in which the quest for liberty, freedom and equality have transformed the lives of all American people, from all aspects of life and to fully understand our nation’s history,” Chaicharee said.

The commission will officially be established 120 days from when the executive order was issued.

However, its future is unclear now because former Vice President Joe Biden is the President-elect. New presidents often revoke the executive orders of the prior president once they take office, and it appears Biden plans to do the same, according to the New York Times.