In a January 12 interview on Today, FOX News contributor and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich told Today co-anchor Katie Couric that a California "high school history teacher was not allowed to give out the Declaration of Independence because it has the words 'our creator' in it." Couric replied that the case was "a pretty significant anomaly" -- neglecting to explain that the Cupertino school (an elementary, not secondary school) objected only to the teacher's supplemental handouts highlighting excerpts from the Declaration of Independence that mentioned God, along with other handouts that appeared to proselytize Christianity.
Gingrich's remark referred to the false claim that Stevens Creek Elementary School banned the Declaration of Independence because it mentioned God. FOX News repeatedly reported the claim, which originated in a November 24,2004, Reuters article headlined "Declaration of Independence Banned at Calif. School." In fact, the school did not ban the Declaration of Independence. As Cupertino Union School District officials noted in a November 30,2004, news release, the Declaration is featured in the school's textbooks and is displayed in some school buildings.
Nonetheless, Gingrich falsely cited the case as evidence that today's textbooks "understate the importance of George Washington -- they understate the importance of the Founding Fathers. They don't really teach you the core values of being American. And I think there's a very wide critique of modern education that it almost engages in amnesia where young people just don't learn about their country."
From Gingrich's January 12 Today appearance to promote his new book, Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America (Regnery, January 2005):
GINGRICH: Patriotic education is captured in a recent incident in California where a high school history teacher was not allowed to give out the Declaration of Independence because it has the words "our creator" in it, and I think that is literally an attack on the very core concept of America. I think all too many schools are afraid to teach about American history, afraid to teach about the Founding Fathers, and afraid to tell people the unique characteristics that make America different than anyplace else in the world.
COURIC: But don't you think that case in California was really a pretty significant anomaly?
GINGRICH: No. I think if you look at textbooks today they understate the importance of George Washington, they understate the importance of the Founding Fathers. They don't really teach you the core values of being American. And I think there's a very wide critique of modern education that it almost engages in amnesia where young people just don't learn about their country.