In a gesture, well intentioned and yet largely symbolic, Governor Kasich signed into law a bill that returns the teaching of American civics to secondary schools in Ohio. Why is this important?
Two very different school systems started to emerge and diverge as a result of educational reforms which took hold of our secondary education system starting in the late 1960's and early 1970's.
One school system, well financed and administered, was dedicated to preparing students for university and subsequent entry into the careers of the liberal professions. The other secondary school system, although in most cases well administered, was financed poorly and staffed inadequately.
Students in the former were taught to become full participants in civil society, while those in the later were instructed to become the clients of liberal professionals and government programs. The birth of the entitlement culture.
There are two words the definition of which must be understood fully to make the argument advanced here, and they are the words culture and civics.
Culture, as used here, is best seen as a set of practices that characterize a group of people and the tools they develop to fabricate the materials around them that are used in every aspect of daily life. Some see this as everything we do and the ways we do them which are readily recognised by the group as a whole.
And, civics, is that set of social tools within a culture that reflect the shared attitudes and values that a people develop to allow decisions to be made, and to constrain those who choose not to comply with the shared attitudes, values and goals of the group.
The way the American Republic goes about its civics is singularly unique among all other social groups on this planet, earth.
For the first time in the five or six thousand year history of social groupings on earth, a nation was formed based on the rule of law, that nation was the American Republic, the United States of America.
There are no other examples of this in all of human history. Not only, did the founders of our Republic form this nation around a set of shared attitudes about the inalienable rights of humankind, they instituted a system of governance that could balance diversity with unity, and at the same time allow for majorities, but that those majorities could not deprive the individual of his inalienable liberties. And, to preserve these principles they put these ideas down on paper and that paper is the Constitution of the United States.
The Constitution is basic and fundamental to the American Republic, a Republic that depends upon a well informed citizenry for its continued existence.
The standard of living and the expansion of personal liberty had developed in parallel in this nation, that is, until a set of educational reforms appearing in the late 1960's sought to diverge society into one group studying civics, the culture of full knowledgeable participation, and another group not studying civics - the advance of educational achievement in this country was second to none.
In time honored tradition, and with the stroke of a pen, the State of Ohio has taken a small but important step towards returning to our secondary school system the teaching of the fundamental way that decisions are made in this Republic, and that is by full participation in our system of governance as enshrined in the Constitution.
State Senator Bob Peterson, State School Board member Jeff Hardin and Eric LaMont Gregory at the Ross County Lincoln Day Dinner 2012