“I suppose it is a truth too well attested to you, to need a proof here, that we are a race of beings, who have long labored under the abuse and censure of the world; that we have long been considered rather as brutish than human, and scarcely capable of mental endowments…I apprehend you will embrace every opportunity to eradicate that train of absurd and false ideas and opinions, which so generally prevails with respect to us; and that your sentiments are concurrent with mine, which are, that one universal Father hath given being to us all; and that he hath not only made us all of one flesh, but that he hath also, without partiality, afforded us all the same sensations and endowed us all with the same facilities…” Benjamin Banneker letter to Thomas Jefferson from A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn, 1980
As New York children prepare to enter the 2013-2014 school year recently released information once again places a spotlight on the national faces for education reform. These faces just get uglier and uglier. Associated Press released 2010 emails of ex-Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels confirming that the book, A People’s History of the United States, was not being used inside the state’s classrooms. He went on to justify this action to AP in an email that read in part:
“We must not falsely teach American history in our schools. We have a law requiring state textbook oversight to guard against frauds like Zinn, and it was encouraging to find no Hoosier school district had inflicted his book on its students.”
I find this admission comical at best and, as my favorite high school math teacher Mr. Worling would say whenever announcing the failing grade of a student, UNMENTIONABLE at worst. Forget that this was the top political dog in the state blatantly censoring the curriculum of young people. Forgive that he is presently running the second largest learning institution in the state of Indiana. Has he even read the text? If so, what could he possibly be afraid of? If not, why not let the learners (or parents)determine the validity of the work. The “false history” he’s attempting to counter is taught in one fashion or another within every city, of every state, every single day.
It’s not enough to dismiss Daniels as an albatross, though I thank him for encouraging me to reread the book. This mentality reverberates throughout the country with governors Brewer in Arizona, Scott in Florida and Perry in Texas. It is encouraged by reformers like present Bridgeport, Connecticut superintendent Paul Vallas who previously headed Chicago and New Orleans. Paid boosters, like Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein, publish “research” on public education. And unfortunately it is the Race To The Top policy of President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan which allows this absurd vision that will continue to fail our children. But Sir Daniels has raised the game, I believe, in a way that allows more players to influence.
I mean players…literally…as in athletes.
I’m a product of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and Division I basketball. Far be it for me to deny any talented kid an opportunity for a free ride (scholarship) to a Big Ten (or is it Big Twelve, Fourteen or Sixteen) icon but a boycott of Purdue University would send a message to those whose job it is to lead young people. Would the school trustees have taken a second look at that $58,000 bonus, (on top of the $420,000 salary) showered on him after only six months on the job, if prized recruits changed their commitments? What if current football or basketball players transferred to archrival Indiana University specifically because of Sir Daniels? Sports is a big deal, and an important revenue stream for NCAA members.
Maybe he has aspirations for a higher political office. I sure hope not, but it doesn’t matter.
The more we learn about him the better.
At least Zinn did his homework.
“Signed…An Educated Brother”