The thrust of the piece, by Professor Jonathan Zimmerman, who teaches history and education at New York University, talks to the ongoing discussions down in Texas about what should be in—in this case—public school history text books. As the professor points out, these issues can be about our fundamental understanding of who we are as Americans.
What if we gave our kids multiple points of view instead? Recent history gives us a perfect opportunity to do precisely that. After the arch-liberal author Howard Zinn died in January, his A People's History of the United States shot to No. 12 on The New York Times paperback nonfiction list. Just behind — at No. 15 — was Larry Schweikart's and Michael Allen's conservative A Patriot's History of the United States, which received a big boost when Glenn Beck pumped it on his radio and TV shows.When I was growing up my home environment told me that President Eisenhower was seen as just holding things in place and Governor Adlai E Stevenson was seen as a forward thinking chap who should have been President. Later I came to see that President Eisenhower did take action, as when he federalized the National Guard down in Little Rock, Arkansas (School Desegregation). And, President Eisenhower managed to not get us entangled too much in the Viet-nam war, while giving the South a chance to stand up on its own.
So here's a modest proposal: Instead of bickering about the "correct" version of the past, the Texas school board should decree that every high school history class use both of these texts.
Views change over time and the job of education is to give us the tools to sort through all we see and hear to come to our own, independent, views.
Regards — Cliff
PS: This OpEd Originally appear in The L A Times.