The left has hijacked American history. Due to its unrelenting attacks on America, our brilliant but flawed history is now presented to students at all levels with the brilliance excised and the flaws vastly overstated. We have discussed the hijacking in posts like this one and this follow up.
The questions are: (1) will patriotic Americans muster the determination to reverse the hijacking and (2) what is the best way to go about doing so.
With President Trump now leading the way, it looks like the answer to the first question is “yes.” Trump’s remarks at the White House Conference on American History show a determination to break the left’s chokehold on the teaching of American history. They also point to the direction this effort should take.
Stanley Kurtz reports:
So far, news out of [the White House conference] has highlighted the president’s intention to appoint a 1776 Commission to forward patriotic education in our nation’s schools. That is only a part of the picture, however. The fuller story emerges when you attend to the conference that preceded the president’s address, and to an important yet overlooked moment in his remarks.
What came out of that conference?
The White House Conference on American History helped to introduce a new solution to the decline of history education in this country. American Achievement Testing (AAT), a new non-profit company, has formed an alliance with the historian Wilfred McClay, whose extraordinary new American history textbook, Land of Hope, is unlike any text currently available.
In partnership with the National Association of Scholars (NAS), AAT recently received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), to design instructional materials for K–12 U.S. history courses, with Land of Hope as their core text.
President Trump touted the NEH grant during his speech. He also asked McClay, Theodor Rebarber, CEO of AAT, Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, to stand and be recognized.
The way to break the left’s chokehold on the teaching of our history is not to impose a de facto national curriculum — e.g., Common Core, new national civics standards, or an AP U.S. history framework. Rather, the idea is to return our education system to the principles of federalism, competition, and local control.
As Stanley puts it:
AAT hopes to break the College Board’s AP monopoly not with federal coercion, but with a simply superior product. That means more choice, not less. Initially, however, AAT will offer a true alternative to current non-AP U.S. history curricula and the monochromatic character of American history textbooks, nearly all of which share the same limitations and biases.
Stanley acknowledges that “fledgling efforts such as AAT may initially grow slowly, with only a few states and school districts at first, and are sure to face funding challenges as well.” He believes, however, that “with a genuine alternative now under development. . .the majority in this country that still wants America’s history to be properly taught will be galvanized to embrace and support AAT.” As a result:
Even as the first handful of states or school districts adopt AAT’s U.S. history curriculum, the competitive pressure put on the College Board and textbook publishers will do more to move history education back to the center than any number of conservative education policy wonks sitting around the table, hat in hand, begging for crumbs from their dominant left-leaning counterparts.
In the end, public support for AAT’s efforts will determine whether the enterprise ultimately succeeds in reclaiming U.S. history from the left. For more information about AAT’s history project, you can visit its website.