Stanley Kurtz reports that California is on the verge of approving a new and sharply leftist K-12 curriculum framework for history and social sciences. The move, he adds, “has national implications, since textbooks retooled to fit California’s changing history frameworks are often used much more widely.”
Stanley describes the new California curriculum this way :
On immigration, it is anti-assimilationist; on family and sexuality, it is radically anti-traditionalist; on terrorism, it tends to “blame America first;” on the 1960s, it highlights and implicitly lauds the most radical “black, brown, red, and yellow power movements;” on politics, it paints a halo over progressives while perpetrating a hit job on conservatives; on economics, it elevates Keynesian liberalism and ignores everything else; on military history, it is silent or slyly antagonistic; on contemporary politics, it reads like an anti-globalization protest pamphlet.
Stanley provides specifics to back up his description. Here are some of them.
Instead of simply presenting the across-the-board political and cultural consensus of the Progressive Era in favor of assimilation, the authors of the framework feel it necessary to insist that the ideal of immigrant assimilation is no longer appropriate, and was probably based on some combination of bigotry and selfishness when it flourished.
On sex and sexuality:
Treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) sexuality—and of sexuality in general—is a novel addition to California’s history curriculum. No other 11th grade theme receives more coverage, as the framework goes well beyond an account of the post-sixties gay-rights movement. Students also learn about “Boston marriages” during the Progressive Era (marriage-like relationships between two women, often but not always asexual), drag balls during the Harlem Renaissance, and the like.
The subtext is decidedly “liberationist,” with a constant implication that traditional morality and family structures are oppressive and outdated. Sometimes the bias is pronounced, as in the section on the AIDS epidemic, where the framework bemoans “AIDS hysteria” and the consequent regrettable “retreat” from “sexual liberation movements.”
No balancing material is offered.
The advent of Islamist terrorism gets virtually no substantive treatment in this supposedly updated 11th grade curriculum, although it is mentioned several times in passing. For example, although we learn that the attacks of September 11, 2001 prompted increased immigration enforcement at the Mexican border, we learn nothing of substance about the greatest foreign attack on American soil, or its aftermath.
The section on the Cold War broadly hints that CIA involvement in the overthrow of the Mossadegh government of Iran in 1953 was responsible for the Iranian Revolution of 1979, and for the rise of contemporary Islamism in the Middle East as well. This way of looking at the American role in the Iranian coup of 1953 remains highly contested, while the leftist theory that Islamic radicalism is nothing but blowback from America’s actions in the Middle East is even more problematic and controversial.
So the new 11th grade framework features a thoroughly biased and one-sided treatment of the central foreign policy challenge of our time.
On World War II:
The account skips lightly over American victories, concentrating instead on the loss of Bataan, “one of the most grievous defeats in American military history.” Somehow the new framework has contrived to teach World War II, America’s greatest military victory, in such a way as to have students concentrate on America’s most grievous military defeat.
On Democrats and Republicans:
The 11th grade history framework lavishes attention on progressives and Democratic presidents, recounting the expansion of the federal government in the most sympathetic terms. By contrast, Republican presidents are either ignored or painted in a bad light. Students are never offered a coherent explanation of what conservatives believe.
The proposed curriculum isn’t a done deal. The California State Board of Education meets on July 13 of this year to consider final approval.
But it may be too late to stop this train. If so — if the changes cannot be stopped — Stanley warns that states, school districts, and parents who prefer a more fair and traditional approach to American history will need to redouble their efforts to monitor textbook adoption. Textbooks compatible with the new California curriculum should be systematically avoided.
The best long-run solution would be the creation of an educational testing company advised by the finest traditionally-inclined scholars and capable both of competing with the College Board’s leftist AP curriculum, and of authorizing and encouraging the creation of new and better American history textbooks.