Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran is proposing a new rule requiring Florida teachers to align their civic lessons to a traditional view of American history. It states that teachers “may not define American history as something other than the creation of a new nation based largely on universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence.” It’s also in line with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ priority to make sure “critical race theory,” which deals with the role of racism in U.S. society, isn’t taught in public schools.
And it’s also in line with a cherry-picking, revisionist approach to how we contemporary Americans got where we are. It’s not been a seamless evolution from 1492 to 1619 to 2021. If we’re not truthful and candid about our history, we’re never going to learn from it, let alone realize the ideals of our ambitious, democratic experiment—still very much a work in progress. If we’re not honest, for example, we won’t acknowledge that George Floyd is an extension of America’s original sin—not just an unfortunate incident.
We know that those who deny or ignore history will repeat it. What Corcoran proposes—in the name of proscribing “crazy liberal stuff”–is the stuff of revisionism. It’s also an insult to teachers, who seemingly can’t be trusted to think critically or to present the truth in a context that is honest, sensitive and instructive.