I wish that I could say that this exceptionally disturbing article surprises me, but sadly, it does not. Republican members of the Tennessee legislature have decided that it’s their duty to politicize the teaching of history to school children. Specifically, they’re attempting to indoctrinate school children by dictating how history is to be spun.
From the January, 22, 2014 edition of the The Tennessean newspaper:
History bill would emphasize interpretations favored by conservatives
Written by Chas. Sisk
State lawmakers are weighing a bill that would mandate how Tennessee students are taught U.S. history, with an emphasis on interpretations favored by conservatives.
House Bill 1129 would require school districts to adopt curriculums that stress the “positive difference” the United States has made in the world and “the political and cultural elements that distinguished America.” The measure also deletes a current guideline that encourages teaching about diversity and contributions from minorities in history classes.
The state Department of Education opposes the measure, saying curriculum decisions should be left to the State Board of Education and local school boards.
Backers of the legislation, a version of which has passed the Senate, say it remains a work in progress. But its main sponsor in the House, state Rep. Timothy Hill, conceded Wednesday that the measure is meant to leave students with certain beliefs, such as the view that the wording of the U.S. Constitution leaves no room for interpretation.
That legal theory, known as strict constitutionalism, generally has been used by conservatives to argue their side on a number of issues, including abortion, government regulation and gun rights.
The bill was filed last February, months before the current fights over textbooks and education standards erupted. It had moved through the legislature largely unnoticed until this week, quietly passing the Senate unanimously just seven days ago.
But it has been embraced by some lawmakers who have voiced concerns about bias in Tennessee textbooks. State Rep. Glen Casada, R-Franklin, backs the measure, which he said is similar to a bill he had planned to file himself.
Supporters say the bill ensures that Tennessee students learn about the country’s origins. The bill spells out that students would be taught about the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, as well as the nation’s achievements in a variety of fields and the “political and cultural” characteristics that contributed to its greatness.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with talking in terms of we live in the greatest state in the greatest nation,” said Hill, R-Blountville.
But Remziya Suleyman, director of policy for the American Center for Outreach, a group that advocates on behalf of Muslims in Tennessee, said the bill might encourage districts to adopt history books that downplay or distort information about recent immigrants and religious minorities.
Meanwhile, state Rep. Harold Love, D-Nashville, said the bill seems to discourage discussion of the contributions of African-Americans, particularly those who were slaves.
“This part of our history I don’t think needs to be glossed over,” Love said.
Love and other lawmakers have asked Hill to agree to amend the measure before it moves further through the legislature. Both sides expect those changes to be worked out over the next few weeks.
Reach Chas Sisk at 615-259-8283 or on Twitter @chassisk.
Here is some of the pertinent language of this horrific piece of legislation:
Students shall be informed of the nature of America which makes it an exception differentiated by its behavior, influence and contributions from the other nations of the world.
The Constitution is the “rule book” for how the federal government works. No action is permitted unless permission for it can be found in the Constitution.
The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, with the Bill of Rights … still apply in exactly the words they originally contained in simple English.
All school district boards shall document and report to the commissioner their compliance with the content of courses as described.
Education should not be about political spin. It should be about teaching children to think on their own and to draw their own conclusions. This sort of indoctrination is extremely disturbing, and I sincerely hope that this doesn’t become the hot potato issue that evolution has become in Texas.Scridb filter