Governor Spencer Cox has every right to do so worry about teachers and the future of public education at all levels. Institutions that have served the United States since colonial times have provided the best investment in future citizens imaginable.
Public schools at all levels asked citizens to support the common goal of providing educational opportunities for citizens of all ages. In the midst of this crusade, a large group of civil servants decided to dedicate their talents and careers to keep the system relevant.
During the COVID pandemic, families, teachers and students needed to adapt in a unique and creative way. They worked together to help children achieve their dreams as politicians, parents and critics challenged them throughout the process.
As voices grew louder and civilization diminished, educators felt abandoned as mask mandates, vaccinations, and conspiracy theories overshadowed the rational discussion of health care and course content. Recently, there has been a flurry of efforts aimed at what is called Critical theory of race or, simply, the teaching of racial issues and their causes in schools.
For many politicians, this is a phrase that could lead them to victory in the next election. After an extensive search for public education courses and texts, it is safe to conclude that critical race theory is not a major part of Utah’s curriculum. Theory does not exist as a discipline in public education.
For half a century, while my colleagues and I taught the history of the United States in Utah, we always tried to base our course on truth, facts, and trust. As scientists, we continue to learn, so interpretations may change as new facts are confirmed. The search for truth based on facts never ends. New evidence helps broaden the understanding of the past, enabling students, as citizens, to build a broader foundation.
Unpleasant to teach about the slave trade, slave auctions or Middle Passage. It is also unpleasant to learn about how the colonial powers invented ways to remove the natives from their traditional lands. However, we develop empathy for our current neighbors when we realize that their path to the present is different from ours.
The The way of tears, Mill Hauna, Mountain meadows, Bear River and Fort Pillow all horrific events or mass killings on racial or religious grounds. They explain the world around the civil war, and how violent uprisings could have been the result of the passions of that day. When I see today a video that condemns 14th and 15th the amendments as an excessive influence of the federal government, remind me of how Compromise of 1877led to both the loss of minority votes and racial segregation.
Indian reservations, Chinese exclusion and disenfranchisement of the SPD are all part of the historical history of the late 19th century. Moving to Americans of Japanese descent during World War II continues to remind us of what has been done, but also of how citizens can rise above actions designed to harm them.
However, historians do not dwell on cases of racial, ethnic or religious prejudice. Declaration of Independence, US Constitution, Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments create the background for the continuation of the beautiful narrative. There are many events and people that have made the United States great. The most important thing is that we as people continue to try. Knowledge of the past, based on truth, facts and trust, helps us create a better tomorrow.
Although some experts condemn the terms “inclusive,” “welcoming,” and “equality,” these words define the path of the United States. There are pitfalls and obstacles along the way, but when we recognize the contribution of all people, we become one.
The preamble to the Constitution has eternal meaning as a goal. For the most part this is what is taught in our schools in 2022.
Lawmakers across the country would serve their constituents well by including a positive, supportive stance on education.
During COVID-19, teachers, like health workers, served well under considerable coercion. Our teachers had to perform in classrooms, in front of computers and in our children’s homes. Indeed, 2022 is a great time to express gratitude through economic support to all children and their teachers, rather than chasing fears that are not based on facts, truth or trust.
F. Ross Peterson, a Logan resident, is the author of several books on Idaho history and regional Western history. He is a graduate of the University of Utah and a former chairman of the UDU School of History. He received his Ph.D. from Washington State University and former president of Deep Springs College of California.