It is said that history is written by the winners, and to a certain extent, I believe that is true. But perhaps most important is the fact that the history taught in our schools is controlled by those in power. This has resulted in a skewed version of history being taught in our schools -- a history that ignores or downplays the evil of slavery, and the place of slavery in our history. That means we have produced, and continue to produce, too many citizens that don't understand the roots of the racial issues plaguing this country.
The following is part of an excellent article on this issue by Sam Fulwood III at Think Progress:
To be perfectly blunt about it, far too many Americans are shockingly ignorant of history, a fact that is exacerbated by an unwillingness to learn the true story of how white supremacy shaped the founding and development of the nation.
Earlier this year, in an effort to address and correct the miseducation of U.S. schoolchildren, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), released a year-long study that will hopefully point the way toward better informing future generations of students about American history.
The study’s report, Teaching Hard History: American Slavery, found that many school kids don’t know the history of slavery in America because it’s either not been taught to them in school — or, when it is taught, it’s inaccurately portrayed to support false narratives which glorify white Americans’ views of themselves. The consequence of this type of miseducation has been to produce generation after generation of students who graduate with a fundamental misunderstanding of how and why racial disparities and antagonisms exist today. . . .
For its report, the SPLC surveyed U.S. high school seniors and social studies teachers during the 2017 academic year, reviewed a selection of state history-content standards, and reviewed 10 popular U.S. history textbooks. The study found:
- High school seniors struggle to answer the most basic questions about slavery: only 8 percent could identify slavery as the central cause of the Civil War; fewer than one in four could correctly identify how provisions in the Constitution advantaged slaveowners.
- While teachers are serious about teaching slavery, they don’t know enough themselves to adequately address the subject in the classroom. Fifty-eight percent of teachers said their textbooks were inadequate on the subject.
- Popular textbooks fail to provide comprehensive coverage. The best textbook achieved a score of 70 percent against what the SPLC deemed should be taught; the average textbook score was 46 percent.
- States don’t set high expectations for teaching about slavery. “In a word, the standards are timid,” the report stated, noting that of the 15 state standards analyzed, none addressed how the ideology of white supremacy justified slavery.