Whitewashing history shortchanges students

The decision by the San Francisco Unified School District’s board of education to spend at least $600,000 to destroy a mural painted during the Great Depression by Victor Arnautoff, an avowed Communist, points up the hypocrisy surrounding the teaching of American history (“San Francisco Spends $600,000 to Erase History,” The New York Times, Jun. 30).  Because the mural did not depict the nation’s past in the politically correct way, the board wanted to protect students.

But in doing so, the board deprives students of the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills.  What students are getting is intellectual pap that makes a mockery of what a real historical education is about.  They certainly are not getting the truth from textbooks because textbooks are the product of committees composed of people with their own agendas.

Private schools have far more freedom to teach.  I’m not saying what they teach is any less tendentious.  But at least it is not subject to the same number of conflicting interests as public schools. Let young people learn the truth about our past.

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2 Replies to “Whitewashing history shortchanges students”

  1. I suppose fear plays a part in the public schools’ insistence on painting a fake picture of history. Our country has a very dark past, as I suppose all countries do, if historians are honest. Is it a fear of offending, an attempt to avoid trouble now? We do ourselves a disservice. I want to know the bad things my ancestors did and why they did them.


  2. dkhatt: I’ve never understood why we are so afraid of telling the truth about our history. True patriotism comes from acknowledging the sins of the past but still loving the country. Students can handle the truth.


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