What are we teaching (or trying to teach) our kids? Schools are supposed to be havens for learning — for opening minds, sharing ideas, creating a brighter future. But, politics and religion and just plain idiocy are slowly but surely doing away with any of that.
Today I read about Pam Manzanec of the Colorado State Board of Education. She has a problem with the high school history course curriculum — more specifically the Advanced Placement U.S. History test — because it doesn’t teach that the U.S. voluntarily ended slavery. Take a minute and let it sink in. A woman who can influence educational standards said, in a public meeting, that the U.S. voluntarily ended slavery:
“Yes, we practiced slavery. But we also ended it voluntarily, at great sacrifice, while the practice continues in many countries still today! Shouldn’t our students be provided that viewpoint? This is part of the argument that America is exceptional. Does our APUSH (AP U.S. History) framework support or denigrate that position?”
When she says “at great sacrifice,” does she mean that pesky Civil War thing? Or is she referring to something important? Well, no matter. Go, America! We’re exceptional!
How do people like this get into places where their idiocy can have a real effect on important issues? (I call this the Bachmann Effect) I had to know more, so I kept digging. Where it led should have surprised me but really didn’t. The Republican Party, Fox News and Fox News contributor Ben Carson. The Republican National Committee is sponsoring a resolution opposing the country’s AP History Curriculum and Carson (who by the way is toying with the idea of running for president in 2016) went on record and on camera to complain about the AP History curriculum saying that it is too anti-American and will make children want to become terrorists. Yes, terrorists — I’m not making this stuff up!
“There’s only two paragraphs in there about George Washington … little or nothing about Martin Luther King, a whole section on slavery and how evil we are, a whole section on Japanese internment camps and how we slaughtered millions of Japanese with our bombs … I think most people when they finish that course, they’d be ready to go sign up for ISIS … We have got to stop this silliness crucifying ourselves.”
See? I told you I wasn’t making it up! Our history is full of tragic events, which should be taught, discussed and analyzed so that we learn what we can from them and hopefully not repeat them in the future. Greatness — for America and for people in general — isn’t about the wrongs we have done — it’s about how we accept those wrongs, learn from them and try our best not to repeat them.
Carson needs to understand that life is about balance. There is so much more to America than the evils we have done. Our history has a lot of great things as well. We’re not just George Washington and Martin Luther King. We’re also Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. Frederick Douglas and Rosa Parks. Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison. The Wright Brothers and Neil Armstrong. Harry Houdini and Penn and Teller. Marion Anderson and Aretha Franklin.
Of course we are also William Stoughton and Joe McCarthy. John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald. Belle Gunness and Genene Jones. Al Capone and Charles Manson. Balance.
We’re supposed to be educating our children, arming them with a knowledge of history — the plain truth about the country they live in and the place it holds in the world around them. If the children are our future, then unless something changes our future is in real jeopardy.