The proposed legislation would reduce school district budgets if they taught the Project 1619 curriculum produced by the Pulitzer Center along with the New York Times publication of the series of articles. The people involved in this legislation are literally so threatened by information that offers a different perspective on US history that they are trying to pass laws to make sure students don’t hear it.
In part, educators say, this is due to a misunderstanding of what history lesson means, at least in the hands of a good teacher who has the leeway to offer multiple angles and sources.
“Any good social science teacher will surely use a variety of things in their classroom and ask their students to criticize what they read, ”Stefanie Wager, president of the National Social Science Council, told EdWeek. “The work of historians, the work of social science teachers, drives students to uncover this evidence and to challenge and weigh that evidence. Trying to repress this or in any way stop it is not the hallmark of a good quality social studies educator. “
Similarly, Olivia Lewis, president of the Arkansas Council for Social Studies, wrote in a letter to her lawmaker: “Both bills convey a misunderstanding of history and social science education as a set of static facts that teachers present to students. … Social science teachers and students must be able to research and debate without fear of retaliation. “
Obviously, this is no more welcome to the lawmakers promoting these bills than putting blacks at the center of US history.
What is particularly shameful is that two of the people who introduced the legislation in their states are actually former educators. Arkansas State MP, Mark Lowery, who introduced the bill in his state, has worked as a college professor – including a debating coach! One would hope the college debates coaches would understand that multiple sources of information is a good thing, not a threat, but apparently not in this case. Mississippi State Senator Angela Burks Hill is also a former educator. However, one of her experiences is working as a science teacher at a Baptist school. Debate and multiple perspectives probably weren’t that important.
However, the anti-1619 project’s bills themselves could be used to advance social science education, said an education historian. “Show the kids the 1619 project, and then show them the bills … trying to narrow it down or eviscerate it, ”suggested Jonathan Zimmerman of the University of Pennsylvania.