The recent election for governor in Virginia underscored the current intense public focus on what is taught in schools across our country with respect to race issues. Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin has made the issue a central part of his platform and polls show that it received decisive support from parents who believe that teaching our nation’s history in public schools on issues of race and racism is somehow prejudicial to white students and “dishonored the heritage from America”.
According to a survey, about half of Virginia voters thought parents should have “a lot” of say in what their child’s school teaches, and of those parents, 77% voted Youngkin.
Not surprisingly, this belief and concern about what is taught in schools in regards to race and racism is expressed by some white parents who feel their children are somehow demonized and labeled “oppressors” by the public education that deals with the horror of racism in the United States. A USA Today Poll found that only about a third (37%) of white parents supported teaching what is termed âcritical race theory,â compared to a majority (83%) of black parents who supported it. (Fifty-nine percent of Hispanic parents and 71 percent of Asian parents also support teaching systemic racism.)
The idea seems to be that teaching racism involves telling children that all white Americans should be blamed and must claim ownership of the barbaric institution of slavery which is a shameful part of our nation’s history. . None of this is true.
These misconceptions are orchestra and nurture a movement that should cause and cause serious concern among those of us who believe in a United States of America, and the need for educated, civil and honest discussions about our history in order to continue to build this more perfect union. In addition, there is a movement that lobbies for political insurgencies in the governance of public education by targeting local school boards.
Like Bethany Little, director of EducationBoard emphasizes, “These are not separate movements, but a tightly orchestrated effort to use the difficult issues of race and racism to divide Americans and threaten to remove, replace or even physically injure members of the school board who oppose for the prohibition of books or ideas and for the honest teaching of American history. All of this is a disservice to parents who want honest history teaching, a program rich in diverse books, and a safe, supportive and inclusive education system for all students. Only by raising the voice of these parents – across the political spectrum – can we get out of this mess. “
In local communities across the country, school board meetings that normally focus on budgeting, hiring the next superintendent, extracurricular activities, and similar issues turn into side shows reminiscent of Jerry Springer. Individuals who describe themselves as outraged parents show up at these meetings, protesting loudly against the teaching of our nation’s history on race issues and sometimes threatening school board members.
At the same time, efforts are being made to elect to school boards people whose intention is not the optimal management and governance of our schools, but the advancement of an American history review program. regarding centuries of African slavery. And furthermore, deny the implementation of dehumanizing laws (such as the Jim Crow laws in the South) and how the remnants of these inhuman institutions continue to affect us all. The teaching of the history and heritage of race and racism should not be used by individuals on the left to curse and curse America. Nor should it cause Americans who align themselves politically with the law to seek to deny our nation’s embarrassing history of enslavement and dehumanization of people of African descent or indigenous peoples.
General Colin Powell once told the Howard University graduating class, speaking of some of the darkest days in our nation’s history – when slavery was a recognized and legal institution – “By- above all, never lose faith in America. Its faults are yours to fix, not to curse. I take these words to heart and encourage all who see America’s wrongdoing to do the same.
America is a great country, but as no individual is without their faults and sins, neither is any nation. It is dangerous naivety to suggest that we live in a no-fault nation that has never committed bad acts under government sanction, or that those acts do not continue to have significant impacts on the world in which our children will live and govern. We have to be honest with ourselves and with our children about our nation’s history, good and bad, because we cannot fix what we claim is not faulty.
This nation is currently engaged in numerous mini civil wars which have immense destructive possibilities. It is high time that people of good will and respectful of humanity seek common ground. We have to find a way to struggle and return to the ideals and values ââupon which a democracy can flourish and people can live together in community as citizens of a nation. This is particularly important when it comes to the education of our young people. It has never been an easy thing to do, but we shouldn’t make it harder by engaging in indiscriminate, misguided and manipulated causes that don’t bring us together as a nation but only serve to divide us further.