Originally created 10/26/02

Pupils need lesson in patriotism, woman says



Jane Armstrong is appalled by what she sees as a lack of pupil patriotism and wants patriotic lessons added to the school curriculum.

"There is no real time set aside during the school year where children learn what it means to be an American," the west Augusta woman said.

There's Memorial Day, but that's more of a school holiday than anything else, she said. Then there are Presidents Day and Independence Day, but children are out of school then, she said.

"I would like for President Bush to set aside a week the same time every year for 'I Am An American Week.' Our children are our most precious commodity, and they've lost their patriotism," Ms. Armstrong said. "I don't think you can change attitudes or behaviors until you change the way they think."

Ms. Armstrong has been working on the project for the past six years, and she recently brought her idea to the Columbia County Board of Education. She has received letters of support from former President Jimmy Carter, first lady Laura Bush and U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood.

She said Mr. Norwood encouraged her to start the program locally and then try to expand it into a national effort.

It was the second patriotic request before Columbia County trustees in recent weeks. The other request would designate Nov. 11-17 as Vietnam History Week. That's when the movable Vietnam Memorial is scheduled to be on display in Columbia County.

Superintendent Tommy Price said he felt there was "validity" to that request, which would integrate information on the Vietnam War during that week, but he cautioned the board about trying to do too much.

"How much do you devote to special causes when you already have a curriculum with a tight timeline to implement?" Mr. Price said.

Trustees said they would like Ms. Armstrong to present a curriculum before they make a decision.

Reach Melissa Hall at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 113, or melhall@augustachronicle.com.