Currently, in the United States, there is an attack on the content being taught in many of America’s public schools. Be it the governor in the state of Florida and his so-called “anti-woke” attack on anything that addresses the history of people of color in the U.S., or public schools where books are being banned because the content may cause some to “feel uncomfortable”. As a result, teachers in many K-12 schools are afraid to teach about issues that may be controversial (i.e. slavery, prohibition, women’s rights, Jim Crow) or reluctant to use approved resources that address other historical inequities because they fear for their jobs. In a sense, what seems to be occurring throughout our country is an effort to hide America’s history and the consequences of that history. As a teacher of future educators, I find this growing practice unacceptable and dangerous to the idea of having an educated populace.
Quite simply, to hide the history of this nation is the deliberate act of denying educators the right to teach about the ugly side of the American past. In Texas, the state legislature is considering the replacement of the word “slavery” with the phrase “involuntary relocation”. In many southern states, legislatures are passing laws referred to as “parents’ bill of rights” where parents can choose whether they want their children to learn about historical issues such as redlining, Jim Crow, and the Trail of Tears. Recently, a Florida textbook changed the story about Rosa Parks such that her race was not mentioned when discussing her historical significance.
Division, resentment, and angst begin to reign supreme in the United States when hiding history. Ignoring our history causes legislators to consider cutting programs that were started for a very clear purpose many years ago (Think Head Start). Ignoring history, I argue, causes some Americans to act in a manner that others have no history worth remembering, so they encourage the banning of certain books that reference a dark period in our nation’s history (ex. Harper Lee’s, To Kill a Mockingbird).
Maybe legislators and the general public can begin treating educators like they do other professions (doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc.) and accept that licensed teachers and principals know what it is they are doing when it comes to preparing students to live on a diverse and changing planet.