Letter to the editor: Curriculum should emphasize common values, not racial divisions

Mike Tabb

The Colorado Academic Standards Revision Committee recently solicited public comments on its draft Social Studies curriculum recommendations. As a concerned Summit County citizen, I joined 360 people from around the state in submitting a statement reflecting these ideas:

We favor the unvarnished teaching of social studies — the good, the bad and the ugly. But to focus only on the ugly, as the proposed standards do, is neither a true nor an honest representation of this country’s history and will not help our students become educated members of the community.

For example, page after page of the proposed standards identify certain racial groups whom the authors of the standards believe are disadvantaged, without identifying other groups, including millions of Europeans, for whom this country has served as a refuge from poverty, oppression and even death in the case of Jews facing the Holocaust. We can teach that slavery and Jim Crow, the use of indentured Chinese to build the railroads and the westward expansion at the expense of Native Americans are blots on our history. We should also teach that, despite past oppression, these groups have proven capable of surmounting the challenges they encountered and have prospered in our free country.

While the proposed standards mention our foundational documents, such as the Constitution (including the Bill of Rights) and the Declaration of Independence, as well as the basic structure of our limited federal government and separation of powers, these are not emphasized even though they are so vital to understanding why our free country endures despite our many differences.

I urge Summit County residents to join me in asking that the proposed standards be totally rethought with an emphasis on the shared values and experiences that unite us, rather than our racial divisions.

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