Monday, July 11, 2011

Real American History

This week California lawmakers sent the governor a bill that would require public schools to include the contributions of gays and lesbians in social studies curriculum, the first state to do so. People with disabilities are also included in the list of groups that schools must discuss. The bill would also prohibit material that reflects adversely on gays and lesbians. The Assembly passed the bill with a 49-25 party line vote.

We're glad to see this bill as a strong step forward in presenting the history and culture of the United States in a more equitable manner. Anyone who has learned the traditional "American History" knows that the curriculum centers around the stories of wealthy able-bodied white males, the military, and wars. Therefore, it often takes legislation to create a more inclusive history.

Another solution is to have "special" separate classes – "African American History," "History of American Indians," or "Women’s History." If we take “Hispanic American History,” we don’t expect to learn "Asian American History." That's because when we speak of a lower group, we assume we’re talking about only that particular group. But when we talk about the upper group, in this case wealthy white males, many people assume we are talking about everyone, and a class about their history is representative and adequate for everyone.

So cheers to California for coming closer to making the history taught in our classrooms the real history of our country.