Joe Biden January 6, 2022
President of the United States
Dear President Biden,
Thank you, Mr. President, thank you—your speech this morning was terrific. We believe it will be remembered as one of the landmark speeches in U.S. history. At a crucial cusp in our nation’s course, your statements and your tone were exactly the right response to the insurrectionist outrages perpetrated against our democratic republic one year ago, and they rank right up there with Lincoln after Gettysburg, with Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor.
This terrible divisive situation did not arise overnight, it took a generation and more of failure to educate children about democracy. In this context, we urge you to consider announcing a bold new education initiative. This initiative is to be two-fold: in public schools across the nation 1) it will restore the teaching of civics at every grade level, and 2) it will institute a first-time-ever full telling of this nation’s history. Children must be taught the reasons for which government exists, and the values behind those reasons.
Until we meaningfully address the underlying causes of last year’s atrocities, this threat to national unity will fester and recur in various ways. Schoolchildren’s history texts should not devote a whole chapter to World War II while dispensing women’s suffrage history in a single paragraph—and barely scratching the surface of reconstruction, Jim Crow, segregation, and racism unto the present day. The people who attacked our capital self evidently did not know our real history, and they clearly lacked understanding of the purposes for which our government exists. Nurturing education of these purposes, and of the values they are built on, must begin in first grade and continue through high school.
Your genuine leadership is setting a compelling example of how a good leader should preside over the always-great nation that first showed the world how people can govern themselves, without king or autocrat. We appreciate and salute the bold initiatives you have already taken—they are in every way in the same league as the New Deal and Great Society. We ask you now for this most timely new initiative in the educational arena.
You have the nation’s full attention. Godspeed Mr. President.
William D. Coffey Sylvia S. Coffey