Letter: System fails students on history, civics

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To the editor:

"Unlike math and reading, states are not required to meet academic content standards for teaching social studies and United States history. That means that there is no consensus on the curriculum around slavery, no uniform recommendation to explain an institution that was debated in the crafting of the Constitution and that has influenced nearly every aspect of American society since." — Nikita Stewart, 1619 Project.

"We are committing educational malpractice. For generations we have not been adequately taught this history. Our hope is to paint a fuller picture of the institution that shaped our nation. Why can't we teach this?" — Nikita Stewart.

The Emancipation Proclamation did not formally end slavery, it took the 13th. Amendment (1865), making the United States one of the last nations in the Americas to outlaw slavery. In 1868, Congress ratified the 14th. Amendment, ensuring citizenship to any person born in the United States. It also guaranteed equal protection under the law. In 1870, Congress passed the 15th. Amendment "guaranteeing the right to vote to all men regardless of race, color or previous condition of servitude."

"Anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country, as does the belief , so well articulated by Lincoln, that black people are the obstacle to national unity. The many gains of Reconstruction were met with fierce white resistance throughout the South. faced with this unrest, the federal government decided that black people were the cause of the problem and that for unity's sake, it would leave the white South to its own devices." — Nikole Hannah-Jones, 1619 Project.

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"Our founding ideals of liberty and equality were false when they were written. Black Americans fought to make them truer. Without this struggle, America would have no democracy at all. No one cherishes freedom more than those who have not had it." — Nikole Hannah-Jones.

Pulitzer Center at pulitzercenter.org/1619 provides lesson plans that, "engage students creatively and intellectually and opportunities to connect with New York Times journalists. This curriculum supports students and teachers in using The 1619 Project to challenge historical narratives, redefine national memory and build a better world."

This incredible work has made me realize the lack of knowledge a typical college graduate may possess. I now view American voters in an empathetic manner. It is not that they are stupid, it was the educational system that has let them down.

Renzo Del Molino,

Great Barrington


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