Keep the Legislature out of the classroom

Dear Editor:

Do we really need the Luchini bill mandating that public schools teach African-American history and Holocaust history?

If it’s true what the student claimed, that the Holocaust was barely mentioned in her classes, then this is a problem to be rectified by a local school board, not the Legislature.

Of course we want our citizens to know about the persecution of Jews and the enslavement and persecution of Blacks. These groups have faced unique challenges and made unique contributions, along with other groups. Those groups include Native Americans, Italian-Americans, Irish-Americans, Hispanic and Asian-Americans, Middle Eastern and Muslims, whose stories also deserve to be heard, not to mention the English colonists who gave us our language, our Constitution, our political institutions and Bill of Rights. They all made America.

But why would the Maine Legislature poke its nose into our high school curriculum? Politicians should stay out of the business of picking and choosing whose story gets special attention, and our school curriculum should be determined by scholars, historians, educators and parents, not politicians or activists. 

Considering the extreme political divisions tearing us apart today, we need to teach our children a unifying American history, not a plethora of hyphenated American histories. We need an American history that not only educates, but inspires and unites our citizens, that acknowledges past mistakes and progress made, that identifies current problems, explores solutions and teaches pride in our achievements as well. There are good reasons why America is the number one destination for migrants from all over the world, and our children deserve to know this story.

To understand the danger of politicizing our children’s curriculum, I recommend the book “The Language Police” by Diane Ravitch, a prominent liberal educator in the Clinton administration, describing the power of political activists to shape school curriculums through the textbook industry, giving our children a ridiculously censored, dumbed down, uninspiring and hugely negative view of America. Concerning one textbook, Ravitch comments that children are left to wonder why anyone would ever want to move to this terrible country. “The Language Police” describes in detail how far we have already slid down the rabbit hole of politicizing our children’s curriculum and how we might correct the problem by demanding more transparency and public involvement. Concerning school curriculums, the devil is in the details.

Jonette Christian


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