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May 04, 2021

McConnell calls for Education Department to ditch '1619 Project'

All Prod FlashMore than 30 Republican senators have called on the Biden administration to withdraw anti-racist education priorities, saying such education is biased and divisive.

The group of senators, led Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., sent a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona calling for withdrawal of the education department's proposed priorities for U.S. history and civics education, and National Activities program.

The department's proposal was published on the Federal Register earlier this month with an 18-day comment period that ends May 19. It listed two priorities, including one that focused on incorporating diversity into teaching and learning and a second on the promotion of information literacy.

The letter slammed mainly the first priority, attacking the anti-racist and culturally responsive teaching it called for, which it said has already become a trend in K-12 schools.

In particular, the letter took issue with teaching the consequences of slavery and significant contributions of Black Americans to society as reflected in The New York Times' landmark "1619 Project."

The newspaper initiative named after the year when the first enslaved people arrived in Virginia was launched in 2019 to focus on the history of slavery and contributions of Black Americans.

Senators accused the "1619 Project" in the letter of "putting ill-informed advocacy ahead of historical accuracy," citing an unnamed renowned historian who refuted suggestion from the project that slavery was a primary driver of the American Revolution.

The rebuke came despite The New York Times clarifying last year in a 1619 project update that slavery was a primary motivation for some of the colonists, not all of the colonists.

The letter also called the Oregon Department of Education's promotion in February of "anti-racist math" by an organization that teaches that "white supremacy culture shows up in math classrooms" when "students are required to 'show their work' in only one way" as "absurd."

It also criticized culturally responsive teaching against colonization and gender discrimination, such as California's new statewide model curriculum urging teachers to lead students in a "Unity Chant" praying to Aztec deities for "decolonization," and New York curriculum on "cis-gender privilege."

"Families did not ask for this divisive nonsense," the letter stated. "Voters did not vote for it. Americans never decided our children should be taught that our country is inherently evil. If your Administration had proposed actual legislation instead of trying to do this quietly through the Federal Register, that legislation would not pass Congress."

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