On the front page of the Washington Times on Monday was a story about how the New Jersey Department of Education recently revised its history standards and decided not to include the names of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in the new teaching requirements. The Department’s reasoning for these omissions was that teachers already know they have to teach about those figures.
We agree that teachers should know these are required figures to discuss. What we do not agree with is the erasing of names from history books, regardless of how well known the subjects are. History is history. We owe it to ourselves and our future children to preserve history in its entirety.
Also omitted were the words “Pilgrim,” “Mayflower” and “war,” which was replaced with “conflict.” Apparently, the N.J. educators, as well as educators in Virginia and Indiana, felt the term Pilgrim should be excluded because it implied religion, and instead the Pilgrims are referred to as early settlers, early Europeans, European colonizers or newcomers. Of course Pilgrims imply religion – they came to America for the sole purpose of avoiding religious persecution in England. We agree that it is important to maintain separation of church and state, but it is equally important for children to learn by whom our country was founded, without letting political correctness warp the birth of America.
The replacement of ‘war’ by ‘conflict,’ we believe, is also a case of political correctness run amok. Also left out were a majority of references to cruel and inhumane treatment of American soldiers endured overseas during the 20th century. However, the standards made a point that students should identify slavery, the Holocaust and modern Iraq as examples “in which people have behaved in cruel and inhumane ways.” Yes, we need to learn about how Americans unfairly treated African-Americans and how Nazis were evil, but it is also crucial to remember how our forefathers suffered for numerous just causes. Why attempt to shield children from the harsher points of history when they see violence every day on their televisions and in their own streets? We believe that all children should be exposed to the good, the bad and the ugly of history. After all, it’s their history, too.
Teach the truth – the future of our country and the world will be better for it.