Fort Worth will offer military history course in the fall

Posted Friday, May. 03, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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A new elective in U.S. military history will be taught in the Fort Worth school district in the fall and officials believe is the first of its kind to be offered in Texas.

In the first year the class will be offered to students in Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps units at 13 high schools, with an eye toward expanding it in future years. And while some military history is already included in social studies courses, officials said the yearlong course will allow students with an interest in the subject to go into greater depth, while learning about leadership, citizenship and Texas’ role in American military history.

The program was unveiled Thursday at a luncheon featuring cadets from JROTC and Junior Cadet Corps units at Fort Worth middle and high schools and remarks from Texas businessman T. Boone Pickens and Patrick H. Brady, a Vietnam veteran who received the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross.

The curriculum for the course, which starts with the French and Indian War and continues through present conflicts, was developed by the Veterans’ National Education Program in Newtown Square, Pa., in partnership with Fort Worth school officials and input from veterans and active duty military personnel, said Bob McMahon, the organization’s chairman.

Marlene Holmes, 17, a lieutenant colonel in the JROTC program at South Hills High School, said she hopes to find room in her schedule to take the class.

“I think it is better coming from the actually real veterans. It’s not just reading from a book. they know what they’re talking about. They’ve experienced it,” said Holmes, a junior. “I think it should be a mandatory elective. We should never forget where we come from.”

The curriculum is divided into three modules that can be used as a whole or as separate lessons to supplement other coursework. The first module covers the French and Indian War, American Revolution and Civil War. The second covers the Spanish American War and World Wars I and II, and the third includes the Cold War, Vietnam conflict, Persian Gulf War and the war on terrorism.

The lessons include videos, quizzes and interactive activities. One lesson on American involvement in World War I has students creating a 3 to 5 minute news podcast that describes the events leading up to the United States entering the war, such as the sinking of the ocean liner Lusitania by a German U-boat.

Other lessons are designed to show students the contributions that women, African Americans and Hispanics have made in defense of the country.

“We’re looking at it from a social, economic, political and intellectual standpoint,” said Richard Crossley, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who directs JROTC for Fort Worth schools. “We don’t venture into the tactics, weaponry or strategy. We leave that to our college ROTC programs and service academies.”

The special topics elective class is worth one credit toward graduation but does not take the place of required social studies coursework. Students pursuing the state’s recommended or distinguished diploma program must take four years of social studies classes in high school.

“The history of this country is inextricably linked to the military. It is linked to every single important moment and event in our country,” said Michael Sorum, Fort Worth school district’s deputy superintendent for leadership, learning & student support services. “So I think it is a wonderful opportunity for our children to learn more about the history of our nation.”

Jessamy Brown, 817-390-7326 Twitter: @jessamybrown

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