A new report says that schools don’t tell a balanced (dare I say fair and balanced?) story of American History, dwelling on the shortcomings and not enough on the values and concepts that formed the basis of our culture. The report was produced by the Albert Shanker Institute, which is funded and managed by the American Federation of Teachers. The fact that the AFT is involved makes me a little suspicious but the report has been endorsed by a variety of people and organizations with far more credibilty.
Regardless of who’s involved, some of the points made in the article are right on the money.
Too many classroom lessons and text books contribute to a sense of historical indifference by focusing on America’s darker moments, the report says.
In a push to give a warts-and-all account of the struggles of democracy, schools have turned the nation’s sins into the essence of the story instead of just a part of it, the new report says.
"Vietnam, Watergate, impeachment hearings, the rottenness of campaign finance, rising cynicism about politicians in general — we’ve gone excessively in our society … toward cynicism," said Larry Diamond, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.
"It’s a call for balance; it’s not a call for purging from the history books honest criticism of our failings."
History has always been a subject over which various groups have fought for control and the result has been students receiving badly fragmented view of the past and present. In DC schools, many students learn only of Black history, with continuous examples of racism. Some schools in my home state of Arizona preach a version of American history with a "my country, right or wrong" approach. Maybe this report can stimulate a change the way our history is presented, written neither by Bill O’Reilly or Michael Moore, but instead a realistic balance of the good and bad.