March 13, 2022

Nedra Rhone: As battle wages over critical race theory, schools fail at teaching Reconstruction

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Writing for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Nedra Rhone points out the many gaps in education when it comes to the critical chapter of Reconstruction.

As Georgia students gathered at the Capitol last Friday to protest legislation that would govern the way race is taught in schools, an interesting email hit my inbox.

The writer, whose identity I will conceal, was responding to one of my past columns on wealth gaps. I won’t repeat his vitriol, but in summary, he suggested Black Americans were alone in their quest for civil rights.

Asian Americans, Native people and Jewish people are not “protesting that they are owed reparations” or “saying they’ve been oppressed or offended by statues,” he wrote.

None of that is true.

All the groups he mentioned have demanded reparations. All have said they were oppressed. All have been offended by certain statues. For those who did not learn this in school, innumerable resources exist to enhance their knowledge.

Normally I wouldn’t waste keystrokes writing about these emails, but after seeing students outside the Capitol, I felt as if I would be failing future generations if I did not to write (again) about who owns the narrative of our country’s evolution.

The misinformed individual who wrote that email is an example of what can happen if state legislators pass a bill that, among other things, would prohibit teachers from teaching “divisive concepts.”

Here’s a concept that shouldn’t divide anyone: It is difficult to have productive discourse about liberty and justice in this country if we don’t first have command of basic truths.

It is telling that in 45 out of 50 states and the District of Columbia, social studies standards for teaching Reconstruction in grades K-12 are “partial” or “non-existent” according to a January report from Zinn Education Project, a nonprofit that supports the teaching of history in middle and high school classrooms nationwide.

Read the full opinion column here.

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