Students are protesting because they recognize that those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.
by Julien J. Metzmeyer, Staff Writer
A proposal from the conservative majority of the Jefferson County (Jeffco) Board of Education, led by member Julie Williams, would alter the Advanced Placement U.S. History course to “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights. Materials should not encourage civil disorder, social strife or disregard the law and should present positive aspects for the United-States and its heritage.”
The students have every right to be outraged by this new proposal, which has an obviously extreme conservative political agenda behind it. No surprise then that the Republican National Committee and the Texas State Board of Education have criticized the course’s new framework that being taught for the first time this year and which is a direct result of that proposal. Apparently the framework gives greater attention to Native Americans but downplays the settlers’ success in establishing a new nation and that is a pill that right-wingers have trouble to swallow.
They also have problem that the framework dares to mention the Black Panthers. If you are a student taking African American Studies at Valley College and there’s nothing about the Black Panthers because judged too controversial what would be your reaction? They want to try to change the History course to better suit their views. The students then would have no room for critical thinking which is what school is for, to form future perspicacious citizens and not robots who were told how to think.
If that proposal sounds familiar by the way, it may be because Ms. Williams copied her proposal from a failed Texas bill back in 2005 that would have restricted the content of state textbooks. The next time Ms. “Duck Dynasty” like her family like to be refer as, steals someone’s proposal, she should choose one that succeeded. The proposal poses a direct threat to the academic integrity of Jefferson County’s AP history courses simply because students need to hear multiple points of view and not just one side of the story like the “bad Indians” versus the “good white men.” History is never black and white and there’s always rights and wrongs on both side and students needs to learn this principle and simply learn the truth even if the truth means admitted America was wrong at some point in History.
“The history that has been taught in the country for generations has an emphasis on race, gender, class, ethnicity, grievance and American-bashing,” said the arch-conservative activist “When it comes to history I believe all children graduating from an American school should know three things: American Exceptionalism, an understanding of US History, and know the Constitution.”
Honesty permitting, this country has been built on the world’s longest Holocaust in the history of mankind with the genocide of the Native Americans and a loss of life that is estimated to be about 12 million according to Ward Churchill, a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado. And that’s without mentioning this country’s enslavement and exploitation of the entire visible spectrum of race: Black people, Hispanic people, Asian people, Indians, Native Americans, the Irish, Italians, Jews, Poles, Swedes – basically anyone that did not fall into a very specific, contemporaneous vision of the “true American.”
Attitudes have changed to a large degree, but it’s important for the next generation that they know how this country was built and what this country did wrong because those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.
As for promoting “respect for authority” and “discouraging civil disorder,”, it seems Ms. Williams never heard about the Boston Tea Party, the American Revolution or even the Women’s Suffrage or Civil Rights movements. All were successful, not by respecting authority and practicing placidity, but through angry protest and civil disobedience.
This country is full of examples of historical figures who, at some point, decided to defy authority. The Sons of Liberty, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. are just a few names that come to mind who decided that a law at one time was unfair and wanted to change it to make this country a better place.
This is exactly what those students are doing and it seems to work because a compromise proposal have been voted earlier this month after two weeks of protest and the patriotic language have been dropped but the resolution still creates a committee to review course materials but promise to involve more student, teacher and community voices.
A small victory but a victory nevertheless and this is what this country is about and Ms. Williams seems to misunderstand that being a true patriot is being willing to question authority – especially the government. This is our right as Americans like stipulate the 1st Amendment and Ms. Williams simply wants to take that away from us, and that’s un-American.