From the new issue of Newsweek, this excerpt from an article by Kurt Eichenwald (two-time winner of the George Polk Award for Excellence in Journalism) on right-wing efforts to turn history education into propaganda. JEFFCO school board member Julie Williams, who has no record of awards for excellence in anything, and her right-wing colleagues earn four paragraphs of well-deserved, withering scrutiny: Conservatives in Jefferson County, Colorado, recently took over their school board and announced they are forming a curriculum committee to review educational materials, starting with this newfangled AP U.S. History approach. The curriculum, designed with the assistance of historians from top universities and colleges, will now be reviewed by a group of untrained laypeople, to make sure that theories are distinguished from facts. And the intent of an advanced history education should not just be to learn how to think and analyze information. No, according to the committee description, materials should promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights. The board member leading the charge is Julie Williams, a graduate of Front Range Community College in Westminster, Colorado, who works as the manager of a dental office. We shouldn’t be encouraging our kids to think that America is a bad place, Williams said in an interview with Chalkbeat Colorado. When [the course questions] our American values and leaves out so many of our Founding Fathers, that’s concerning to me. Nothing against dental office managers: This is a fine career that I probably couldn’t do well. And nothing against community colleges, which have helped untold millions of Americans gain an affordable and practical education. But I doubt Williams believes it would be fine for a Richard Hofstadter, a David McCullough or some other renowned historian to show up at her office and start drilling teeth. Yet she and her unqualified allies have no qualms about sitting in judgment on whether professional historians know what they are talking about. This is all good fodder for the local debate, but dont miss reading the entire article, which is fundamentally about the conversion of textbooks into bit fat propaganda pamphlets in order to appease reactionary forces in multiple states. Julie Williams is just one minion in the army funded by the likes of the Koch brothers. This is why I object to the term conservative being applied to these people. They dont want to conserve anything but their own ideological position. Real education threatens that position, as we can see when Williams whines about historical knowledge turning students into little rebels. Somebody should introduce her to the people who made the American Revolution, or the Labor Movement, or the Civil Rights Movement, from whom she might learn something about the value of rebellion.
Posted on: Fri, 26 Sep 2014 16:48:01 +0000
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