Governor Bobby Jindal has a less-than-promising shot at securing the Republican presidential nomination, but he has a bright future in the party nonetheless. A one-time supporter of Common Core, Jindal’s home state of Louisiana is now in the middle of a lawsuit against the controversial standards. And from his remarks Wednesday in New Hampshire, Jindal doesn’t appear to want another federal set of standards to take their place.
“I don’t think the federal government should be adopting one-size-fits-all standards,” Jindal told a crowd in Manchester. “What if President Obama’s administration were proposing American history standards? What kind of American history would we be teaching? It would be about victimhood. It wouldn’t be about American exceptionalism. It would be about America’s shortcomings and failures from a president who I don’t believe believes in American exceptionalism.”
Jindal’s only problem here is that he’s just a little behind the curve. We’ve already seen Common Core make mincemeat of American history in many of their recommended texts. In their Advanced Placement standards, the guidelines advocate emphasizing the white supremacy among early colonial settlers. They Gettysburg Address is being taught to 10th graders free of any context. Kids are being encouraged to revise the Bill of Rights according to a more modern interpretation. One world history book was found to have 72 pages devoted to Islam while affording the other two major world religions only cursory paragraphs.
1984 is here.
It is perhaps fair to note that there is no such thing as de-politicized history. History is subject to bias, both cultural and authorial. What gets remembered? What gets left out? What gets emphasized? What gets downplayed? One version may be more wrong or more right than another, but as long as the book can pass a fact check (a system with its own set of biases), it’s down to a matter of opinion.
So then we have a choice. What version of American history do we teach the next generation? The one that makes them feel sick and ashamed of their country and their culture? Or the one that empowers them with patriotism and wisdom? All other things being equal – all the facts are in place, all the most obvious POV biases have been eliminated – which version serves students best? This isn’t about propaganda as some liberals claim; this is about perspective.
If you want to fill your private universities with the dark side of American history, have at it. It exists. It should be known, remembered, and studied. Our mistakes as a nation were as important to our destiny as our triumphs.
But when it comes to children getting their first taste of the world, their country, and how everything fits together, why not begin on a positive note? Life is tough enough without shouldering the burdens of history. Shame and scorn extinguish the passion that kids naturally have for the future.
This is about more than Common Core, of course. This is about our country’s determination to keep all the old skeletons alive and dancing and singing: everything you ever believed is wrong, Hi Ho, Hi Ho, and everything you have now is a result of racism, He Hi, Ho He.
It’s time to change the tune.