Rewriting the history being taught in our schools is not only a personal attack on America’s identity but also a precarious game that will only bring harm for generations to come. When history is not learned, it is repeated. Already, our nation is seeing the negative impacts of our students’ miseducation. Instead of presenting the truth of America’s past, many support a better, more politically appealing history. How does one make history better? Simple – you replace the truth with a narrative telling of a desire for power and assumed moral superiority. This is a dangerous and powerful combination.
History has long been a point of political contention in schools, but we are now seeing blatant efforts made to completely replace it. In Illinois, State Representative LaShawn Ford sought to temporarily remove history from schools until a “suitable alternative” could be implemented. To combat the spread of this revised history in Mississippi, Tate Reeves introduced a “Patriotic Education Fund” in his 2022 budget proposal, which stated that students have “suffered from indoctrination in far-left socialist teachings” and that these alternatives intend to destroy traditional American values. Approximately 27 states have taken some form of legislative action against the teaching of critical race theory, a form of alternative history, and there is a potential for more to follow.
Alternative history can come in many forms, but the most prominent is teaching that America is a nation built on greed, that America’s identity was born of systemic oppression rather than a desire for religious and personal liberties and that the sacrifices and contributions of early Americans are nothing more than a front intended to hide a history of hatred. While these ideas are not new, they are being discussed with newfound vigor and support. If the people of Mississippi have any hope to pass on the great history of our country to present and future generations, then they will support keeping the revised history out of our schools.
Mississippi educators have a responsibility to provide a quality, comprehensive education that reinforces the principles Americans have always valued: sacrifice, humility, integrity, and more. Teaching that we are a nation of greed, ruthless ambition and entitlement only serves to erase these fundamental truths and replace them with misplaced vengeance. Teaching truthful history provides a sense of identity and community, not to mention instill students with a sense of morality. History, for better and worse, allows us to learn. For America to prosper, we must be able to use the good and learn from the bad. If Mississippi eliminates this aspect of our children’s education, our future will be a bleak one.
Rewriting history is dangerous. I do not have to tell you that it is not the highs of history being repeated. An ignorant nation is a defenseless one, and I suggest we begin arming our students and ourselves. We need to once again embrace the gifts of knowledge and truth and not cower away from teaching it to future generations. Do not erase the past to suit a personal or political agenda. Instead utilize these gifts to better yourself, and then the nation. Our future depends on it.
Hannah Newsom is a senior majoring in elementary education from Tupelo.