Recently, the Board of Education of Texas decided that Helen Keller and Hillary Clinton should be removed from the state’s mandated history curriculum. This is not a rare occurrence either, as Michigan cut Roe v. Wade and climate change from state curriculum back in June, along with several cuts and limitations regarding civil rights and the Ku Klux Klan. To omit these prominent people and events from the American education system is wrong.
While both of the above examples are recent, altering the curricula for social studies courses is not a new issue. Curricula and textbooks are being changed and rewritten all the time. While it is both necessary and acceptable to change and revise textbooks to include new information, it is important to consider the effect it will have on younger generations, especially with subjects like history. By choosing to avoid or limit teaching certain topics, we change the past for children who learn the edited curriculum. Sadly, there appears to be a political motivation behind these most recent edits.
Politics should not influence the future of public school education; however, Texas is the main source of American textbooks, and its Board of Education, which revises state curriculum, is elected in a right-leaning state. While other states may not have changed their curriculum, it is likely that they purchase textbooks from Texas. By not having the information in the book, it is more difficult for teachers to share the information with their students, thus impacting curricula all over the United States. If misinformation starts in the classroom, America’s political future could become heavily one-sided.
Limiting or outright omitting teaching topics like civil rights and the KKK lessens the importance of the civil rights movement and America’s history regarding racism. Rewriting history in this way could leave young people unable to understand why movements like Black Lives Matter and Colin Kaepernick’s Nike ads are so important and controversial. It also decreases the significance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and other notable civil rights events, because the need for civil rights appears diminished. In order to facilitate progress for the future, it is crucial that we understand our past.
Another prominent cut is Hillary Clinton, who may not be everyone’s favorite politician, but she did make history as the United States’ first female presidential candidate for a major political party. By not including her when talking about notable political figures, which is the section Texas elected to remove her from, Clinton’s significance is erased from history. Stalin is not a well-liked figure, either, but his removal from history lessons is agreeably wrong, and would change people’s perceptions of Russia. So why is it OK to rewrite our own country’s history?
One of the more controversial political topics today is abortion. Pro-lifers campaign everywhere from outside of Planned Parenthood to on our own Drillfield. Roe v. Wade was the first piece of legislation that gave women the right to control of their own bodies. To stop teaching the highly significant court case could change how future generations view abortion and bodily autonomy.
Climate change is one of those topics that our current president believes is not a problem so long as we ignore it. He is mistaken, and removing it from our classrooms makes it more difficult for new generations to try and fix the problem. As citizens of the world, it is our duty to take care of our planet, and, in the words of a former favorite history teacher of mine, “We can’t keep living on Planet A like there’s a Planet B to go to.” If children don’t learn about climate change and their carbon footprint, attempting to create a greener future will be hopeless. I guess it’s time to start scoping out that Planet B.
There are only so many lessons that can be taught in a K–12 setting, but it’s crucial that elected officials pick the right ones. No one is born racist, sexist, Republican or Democrat. Our values are impacted by what we learn. It is OK to have an opinion toward a person or topic, but it is not OK to force those views on children or to shelter them from parts of our history that are deemed impertinent or unpleasant.