Rewriting History: Erasing white guilt from American textbooks

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    Photo by Dawn Ashley
    Photo by Dawn Ashley

    (MintPress)— From Texas to Michigan, education curriculum is under attack as school districts across the country try to rewrite the history of oppression in a more positive light.

    Tennessee Tea Party representatives have proposed removing textbook references of the Founding Fathers as slave owners; Arizona recently passed legislation forcing a nationally-acclaimed Mexican American Studies program to shut down; and Texas has already implemented textbook changes that gloss over issues from civil rights to capitalism.

    Arizona House Bill 2281

    On January 10th, the Tuscon Unified School District (TUSD) voted 4-1 to terminate its nationally-acclaimed Mexican American Studies (MAS) program in order to comply with Arizona House Bill 2281, which places limitations on ethnic studies programs in schools. Failure to comply with the bill would cause TUSD to lose almost $15 million in state funding.

    AZ HB 2281, passed in December 2010, prohibits courses that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, promote resentment toward a race or class of people, are designed specifically for a particular ethnic group, or advocate ethnic solidarity.

    Tom Horne (R-AZ), Attorney General and former superintendent, presented a proposal in 2011 outlining why he believed the TUSD MAS program violated all four parts of HB 2281.

    Horne quoted John Ward, former teacher in the MAS program who said, “Rather than teaching about the trials and successes of Mexican-American culture, the program offered a single narrative to its students…You are a colonized people who have two options. You can either remain willfully subjugated or you can remove the racist colonizers and their power system.”

    According to the New York Times, Augustine F. Romero, director of student equity in TUSD, said,

    “These courses are about justice and equity, and what is happening is that the Legislature is trying to narrow the reality of those things.”

    Hundreds of students in Tucson have begun staging walk-outs in protest of the school board’s decision to close the MAS program.

    Tennessee Tea Party Proposal

    In Tennessee, Tea Party Republicans also seek to limit school curriculum, particularly by amending textbooks that portray the Founding Fathers in a negative way.

    The Tennessee Tea Party released materials regarding state textbooks demanding that “No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership,” according to the Commercial Appeal in Nashville, TN.

    Tea Party activists believe that current textbooks distort Americans’ vision of the Founding Fathers by focusing on criticism of slave ownership and mistreatment of American Indians.

    Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) said in a speech in Iowa last year that the Founding Fathers of America “worked tirelessly” to abolish slavery. She continued to say, “it is high time we recognize the contributions of our fore-bearers…like John Quincy Adams, who would not rest until slavery was extinguished in the country.”

    Rewriting textbooks, however, will not rewrite the actions of the Founding Fathers. John Quincy Adams, although an anti-slavery activist, was only a child at the time the Declaration of Independence was signed. His father was a signatory as well as an anti-slavery activist, however, other Founding Fathers including George Washington, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin undeniably owned slaves at one point in time.

    Texas Textbook Amendments

    Perhaps the most extensive recent attempt to whitewash school curriculum came in 2010 when the Texas State Board of Education adopted textbook changes highlighting conservative Christian elements while downplaying topics like civil rights, religious freedom, American capitalism and more.

    The board voted 9-5 along party lines in favor of Republicans. Other states may also be affected by the changes since Texas is a major publisher of textbooks across the nation.

    Among the changes were amendments to shift focus away from Thomas Jefferson and the idea of separation of church and state, emphasis on global organizations’ attempts to undermine US sovereignty, and text references of President Obama as Barack “Hussein” Obama.

    The board rejected several amendments proposed by Democrats to update historical classifications from B.C. and A.D. to B.C.E. and C.E., discuss hip hop as a powerful cultural movement, and to include more Latino figures in textbooks referring to events like the Alamo.

    Senior board member, Mary Helen Berlanga (D-Corpus Christi), was so angered by the amendments that she walked out of a meeting for the first time since she joined the board in 1982. The New York Times reported that Berlanga stormed out of the room, saying, “they can just pretend this is a white America and Hispanics don’t exist.”

    Political Ideology Trumps Education

    Amendments to textbooks and school curriculum are not expected to stop any time soon. Just last week the ACLU in Michigan wrote a letter condemning a school district for violating the First Amendment by banning two award-winning novels that express hardships in African American history. The books were deemed inappropriate because of references to sex, ghosts, and infanticide.

    It is the job of school boards to adopt changes to educational programming. However, educators and historians are concerned that political ideologies are jeopardizing equal education. The driving force behind all three controversial education cases in Arizona, Tennessee, and Texas all came from conservative Republicans groups.

    In a testimony by representatives of the NAACP, Rod Paige, former Education Secretary under George W. Bush, told the state board of education,  “we have allowed ideology to drive and define the standards of our Texas curriculum and it has swung from liberal to conservative depending on the members of state board.”

    Paige emphasized, “what students are taught should not be the handmaiden of political ideology.”

    Source: MintPress

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      • Casey Stimmel

        White guilt? the problem is the real history is not there in the first place. lol so what are they going to do substitute lies for lies. that is funny to say the least.

        1. Leif Erikson

        found north America first about a few hundred years before Christopher founded central America.
        2. blacks
        in slavery were mostly owned by free blacks. most whites did not own slaves. whites were the first to make it against the law while black nations today still have slaves.
        3. not all slavery was bad. some where slaves because they owed a debt, wanted a wife, wanted to go to school or just wanted a roof and food. some slaves loved their owners and some owners loved their slaves. some even got married. not all master where mean either.
        4. not all slaves in the US were black, there was Indians, Irish, and Scottish.
        5. some slaves had great power
        6. all history is bias and there are many sides to one war.

      • Pg America

        White people have more in common with black people than we all do with politicians. George Washington in his farewell speech said that slavery should be abolished. It was politicians and their rich friends and the Southern Baptist’s that kept it alive. Why do black’s think the white man is the devil? because the politicians controlled the church similar to today. When the Bible is supposed to teach us to be kind, love one another. forgive, not to kill, lie, cheat, etc. Then you have the constitution and the Declaration of Independence with the Bill of Rights. That said We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. But the politicians and the southern baptist didn’t live up to that. Sort of like today except now we are all slaves to D.C.

      • blackyb

        Guilt comes from slacking. Who slacks the most? Those playing guilt czars are on an agenda for Obama to mask the attempted take over of this country. They are trying to divide the country and spread the stupid lie that “whites have something to be guilty about.” This is a lie and another way to justify them looking like they give a flying flip about an ethnic group. If Whites are so horrible then why are all these ethnics breaking theie azzes trying to get to where the whites are concentrated? Find you another thing to complain about that one is not sticking.

      • blackyb

        White guilt? Whites have no white guilt. It is the other ethnics who sat down on America and did not do their part more than any whites. We have no guilt. What did blacks do? They just got a free ride into our country and then proceeded to play slave when most of their ancestors came from places unfriendly to America. Many of them brought this with them to cause trouble. If they do not like it here go the hell back from whence they came would be my advice.

      • Jean Padgett

        You cannot change the people of the past or the past! If you want to make a change, like the late Michael Jackson sang, start with man/woman in mirror. To change history text is disrespectful and does further disservice to historically mistreated people of past and continues it into the present on their survivors.

        • blackyb

          Jackson is another black who wanted the white skin. That is all most of them want because they think it will change them into an instant success. Jackson ruined his looks trying to be someone he was not. It makes me wonder if these people who disfigure themselves think God made mistakes. Well, NEWS FLASH: God gave people the colors he wanted them to have and they should do the best they can do with what they have and quite complaining. Examples would be Alan West, Ben Carson, George Washington Carver, James Jennings, Herman Cain. There are just as many black who can and will do well without trying to take what other people have under the guise of “evening the score” that is nothing but an excuse. These people in their ratio of population to Whites do just as well. Obama and propaganda Czars are trying to confuse ethnic groups and make them perform less than they can by giving them a phony excuse. They are trying to control people by giving them an excuse to slack and envy and hate. It will not work, but it will cause people not to trust other ethnic groups and make it harder to bind together and preserve this nation. That is one of the tactics of the leftists. They do want discord. Know this: Christ is the one who will heal and bind this nation. If a man or woman has Christ in their hearts they are brothers and sisters in Christ and nothing will divide this. That is why those evil people are trying to take God out of the hearts and minds of the people. May advice is NOT TO LET THEM. Pray without ceasing for strength and God given power to overcome these enemies of America and to open the eyes of the ones being used by these evil people.

      • Pingback: Az. hotbed of institutional racism heats up after Spanish-speaking candidate barred from running for office | MintPress

        • blackyb

          Let it be known. Whites have no guilt. Those who play this guilt card are nothing but lazy jerks who would never be anything anyway. How totally sickening. Guilt is something those lazy and treasonous people playing this should carry with them.