tv History As It Happens Podcast CSPAN November 20, 2021 9:05am-10:02am EST
he got himself nominated as vice president by the whigs at their convention in december of 1839, their national convention that nominated william henry harrison and of course tippecanoe and tyler to defeated martin van buren in november of 1840. harrison, as you know, died 32 days into his term, tyler became president. this image is a romanticized image of tyler receiving news of harrison's passing and his elevation to the presidency. >> watch this program and thousands more online, c-span.org/history. >> welcome to the washington times for this special episode of history as it happened podcast, for people who want to think about current events historically, it is available where you get your podcasts, at historyasit happens.com.
we are joined by james james grossman of the historical society. excited to have you here for an important discussion about divisive concepts, the past, how it is study, whose version of events games ascendancy. always a battlefield in our country, the origin stories matter as much now as ever before in america. now roiling the nation over what should be taught in history and social studies classes. what are divisive concepts and where did this controversy come from? >> divisive concept seem to be things that some people are objecting to the teachers are teaching in their classrooms as part of american history. it seems to be the teaching the
history of division is problematic for some people and that is where the term divisive concepts are, that if you teach students that america was deeply divided over slavery, over jim crow, over various things over the course of our history, then what some people are arguing is these are divisive concepts that divide our country rather than these being the history of our country that we have to understand if we are going to deal with them. >> in other words students need to learn about these divisive concept in your view. >> stevens the students need to learn history of division of
conflict, differences of perspective, differences of experience in american history. this is not divisive concepts, these are facts, and the facts are that these kinds of divisions have been part of our history and if we don't understand them we can't deal with them. >> the 1790s were not appear go of unity politically in our country. we've all seen scenes from school board meetings across the country, on news broadcasts, parents objecting to the teaching of what they call critical race theory or antiracism curricula. in the washington suburbs in loudoun county making national news, school board members feel threatened. where does this controversy come from? >> it seems to have come from a small group of people who sat down and said how do we distract americans from what the real issues in american politics are and get them to
argue about cultural issues, issues that quite frankly aren't issues. if you look at the legislation introduced in 27 states that relate to this most but prohibits things that aren't happening. a lot of this is people screaming and yelling about things that aren't happening or are only happening here or there in a few places. children are not being indoctrinated and quite frankly people who are so sure their teenagers are being indoctrinated don't realize it is very hard to indoctrinate a teenager. >> before i read some of the linkage in this bill you mention, preparing for a conversation on history as it happens live and in person, nice to see you in person instead of over zoom. you mentioned to me the legislation is the same in every place, written by a
conservative think tank the heritage foundation. >> it comes out of the think tanks, comes from one particular journalist who has published basically guidelines and had to write this legislation, comes from conservative activists, who probably announced that he has branded critical race. he created something that was barely a presence in american education, certainly outside of higher education and its proud of the fact that he has branded it, and made people think it is what he says it is which is quite frankly brilliant marketing and very bad history. >> here's a bill in the state
of ohio that is now law. no public institution of higher education, school district or public school including a public charter school shall direct or otherwise compel students, personally affirm, adopt or adhere to any of the following tenets, here's one of the tenets -- >> let's stop before we get to the tenets because let's do this piece by piece. you have been a student, i have been a teacher. >> don't know if i was a very good student. >> is a student you weren't compelled to do anything. >> i did go to catholic school. >> evening catholic school which was stricter than public school, there wasn't a lot of telling, you were not -- you were compelled to take gym class, you were compelled to sit in your seat. in history class one never knows, but this notion that these schools are compelling students to believe xyz, i would love to see some examples of this compelling going on. and history classes there's not
a lot of compelling going on. >> here's one of the tenets that are now off-limits. for instance teachers are not allowed to teach their students that any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color or national origin is inherently superior or inferior, that sounds harmless enough in print, that individuals by virtue -- >> let's stop there because i want to parse this piece by piece so read that again. >> no public institution of higher education shall direct or otherwise compel students to believe any sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin is inherently superior. >> let's stop there. there is a phenomenon in marketing called push poll where i -- by asking people particular questions you silly imply facts. almost wake when did you stop beating your wife kind of thing. that is what is going on here,
because when you see this in the legislation, that implies that there are teachers out there, history teachers out there who are teaching students that one race is superior to another. that has happened in american history. that took place in history classrooms for over a century where students were taught that white people were superior to everybody else. and quite frankly none of these people objected. there are not history teachers out there one race is superior to another. they might be teaching that there have been historical patterns where white americans have had advantages. that is fact, where white americans have used civil and civic power they have to a press other people, that is a fact.
nobody is saying, i don't think, history teachers are not seeing weight people are superior to black people, black people superior to white people. that is not what is going on in history classrooms. by articulating that into law that way they are implying to people this must be happening because that is why you have to make it illegal. >> the way this manifest itself in a classroom is teachers might second-guess their decision to teach about jim crow, teach about how the nazis looked at jim crow as a model, how the nazis saw american indian reservations as something in europe.
>> probably that kind of chilling effect you are describing probably comes from somewhere else, we can read the legislation, that comes from someplace else in the legislation. this part of the legislation is nonsense quite frankly. there are other places in legislation where you get more into the issue of divisive concepts where they are teaching about division where teachers might say i better be careful here. >> we will go over one more tenet and move on to what the american historical association is doing about this. individuals by virtue of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin are responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color or national origin, teachers are not allowed to teach that idea. >> this is where we get fuzzy and more interesting.
it is impossible to deny that especially in certain parts of the country but more or less 2 different degrees everywhere in the united states but certainly more in some parts of the country than others that white americans did things that oppressed african-americans. that is a fact. we have documentation of lynching, we have documentation of legally mandated segregation. it wasn't black people who passed laws that forced black children to go to school in southern states funded at one tenth of the rate for students than white people so these are historical facts, this kind of discrimination, that was in essence racially structured.
a teacher has to teach that in order to teach american history. that doesn't mean the teacher is looking at the white kids in the class and saying this is your fault or this is your parents fault. a weight kid in the class whose great-grandfather was in the state legislature in alabama in the early twentieth century and voted for the appropriation free these schools you can't deny this kid's great-grandfather was partly responsible for this but you are not saying to the kid you are responsible. this is a red herring here. it is saying that over time white americans have been responsible for this kind of discrimination or violence. it is not saying every weight kid in the class as a great-grandfather who was responsible for this because my
great-grandfather was in europe until the late 1890s. >> i haven't been in a classroom for quite a while. i assume students have been taught about slavery, jim crow, etc. and we are going to get into what students are actually learning at how well americans are educated on these subjects. the aha is taking action about this. here's the joint statement your organization and you personally signed with other education organizations on legislative efforts to restrict education about racism in american history stating firm opposition to a spate of legislative proposals in 20 states and formed something called the learn from history coalition. >> we have informed it, we joined it. i don't want to take credit for
work someone else has done. >> thank you for correcting me. learn from history coalition seeks to combat deliberate this information about the current state of history education. you joined the coalition. briefly tell us what these efforts are about. >> the coalition at last count had 25 members most of which are education oriented. a few of us are there as historians. a lot of the expertise in the coalition relates to what happens in american classrooms and includes the national association of school boards, the superintendent organization, we are part of it as is the national council of social studies, the organization of american historians and the american association for state and local history. the 4 of us are there to help them with the historical part of this.
the content, but what we are trying to do is to help teachers think about how you can teach what you already described in a way that is professional and honest. as you were saying we always taught about jim crow. this legislation, when you read it carefully, says the teachers in some of the states, teachers must teach that slavery, jim crow, lynching, where deviations from the broader arc of american freedom. the deviations, especially from the visions and values embodied
in the declaration of independence, the constitution, etc.. it is possible for good teacher, i hope many teachers do this, to have students read the declaration, the constitution and talk about was slavery a deviation from these principles because some students say slavery is built into this. other students would say no. some historians say yes, some historians say no. these are things we argue about. the problem -- >> still drawing on them. >> arguing what they mean, what they said, what the intentions are of the people who wrote them. the problem is the phrase anything but, anything other than. in other words, what people writing this legislation don't want teachers to do is to say
that slavery, continuities of racism, segregation, various other things that have happened in our history, they don't want kids to believe that these things are completely consistent with our founding documents, that in fact, this is not think the founders were evil people. the founders were slaveholders, that is a historical fact. to say that therefore they created founding documents that were influenced by the values that they had. by the economy they lived in, the social structure they lived in, it makes all the sense in the world so where the problem lies is the notion that teachers should not be able to have students talk seriously about the role is of racism as
it relates to founding documents, continuities in american history. that is what we object to, teachers been told you can't talk about that because those are divisive concepts. >> race, just one issue, the treatment of labor unions through history. i've done a bunch of podcasts lately about the military-industrial complex, we got to this point when we don't question this prozac military presence across the globe. any number of concepts might make students not feel uncomfortable but question the beliefs and ideas that greeted them at birth. columbus for instance. >> it will make them uncomfortable. >> i did a podcast about, this. most of what we learned about columbus or what i learned was garbage and i started to learn he committed some cruelties, a
was locked up, putting chains, brought to europe was such a terrible administrator. we don't learn those things as a child, when you learn these things as an adult or teenager it might jar your worldview and i guess that is what some of the opponents are saying, they don't want their children to learn that american history is not all glory. >> that's what learning is about. >> if i a 15-year-old student and i am from a military family, 3 or 4 generations and i'm exposed to a conversation in class about the dangers of the military-industrial complex i am probably going to be uncomfortable and i might say this is an american, this is terrible and then the teacher is going to say to me this is from a speech by dwight eisenhower. it is part of our history,
general eisenhower warned us about this when he was president. there isn't much about history that is not going to make somebody uncomfortable. >> that is the point. >> that is how we teach students to step back, to ask questions, columbus, i learned, in 1492 columbus sailed the ocean blue which helped me learn some names and dates. this is, over time historians ask questions because the world around us changes and there were things we didn't think were important 50 years ago. we also see new documents that we didn't know about. >> i mentioned columbus as one recent subject that has been on my podcast but statues have been in the news between you
are on a podcast a few weeks ago for an episode titled charlottesville says goodbye to the confederacy, talked about confederate statues, their origins and the assumptions people today might have had about why those statues were put up versus the real reasons. one more point about the battle over school curricula. recent headlines to show how crazy this issue can get, out of texas where a school official named gina petty, executive director of curriculum and instruction at a school district in the dallas fort worth area, 8400 students telling a teacher apparently, i think i'm getting her name correct, that if you're going to have a book about the holocaust make sure you have a book that has an opposing view because if you only teach one side, the new law in texas might come down on you so that translates to feel going to
teach about the history of lynching, you have to come up with the other side on that. this is crazy of course. >> she has apologized but in a way there is a way the apologies, not irrelevant, but still a problem and that is we have to ask, what is that induced her, stimulated her to say this to the teacher, it was the legislation we objected to. because of that legislation she scratched her head and say i need to tell this teacher there needs to be an opposing viewpoint because that's what the legislation says. >> gina petty was the official who was caught on the table, the superintendent, lane ledbetter issued the apology. >> the superintendent issued an apology on behalf of the school district. the important thing here, this
goes back to supporting we have heard earlier. this notion of opposing viewpoints, that when we teach history, if we are teaching it well, studying it well we teach what i would call different angles of vision. there can be many angles of vision on the holocaust because you want to be thinking about how to happen, what was the response of the german people, were the german people in support of it, the non-jewish german people. there are lots of questions you can ask about the holocaust that provide different angles of vision and that is what we should be learning but this notion of opposing viewpoints, what that assumes is what teachers are doing is saying this was good and this was bad,
and we are going to have an opposing viewpoint, not these were terrible weren't so terrible. that is not how we think about history. simple dichotomy but these laws are going to stimulate these kinds of actions because what it is saying to administrators, if you want to be doing your job right you need to force teachers to do this or else the parents will be coming after you, the school board will becoming after you and so you have a chilling effect on teachers, you have administrators who are not quite sure what their role is and you have parents and school boards looking over the shoulders of professional teachers who are trying to teach students history the way they have learned how to teach
history as professionals. >> let's talk about the larger context in which this controversy is occurring. our nation is having a reckoning with a history of racial injustice. black lives matter movement, the murder of george floyd, black people killed by police and into this maelstrom in 2019 came the new york times's 1619 project which we can talking about stables on the right in our country, the 1776 project which in my view is for history but on the left if we could use a triple dichotomy the 1619 project came in and by the same token that in my view should not be taught in school because it is festooned with serious errors about the american revolution and this speaks to my initial point when i opened up a conversation about the past being a battleground the battlefield, you have these
extremes of competing narratives, neither one is altogether correct. i know aha had things to say about 1619 project. what is your view on that? >> the first problem is the notion of competing narratives. that is a simplistic way of thinking about what historians do, what historians teach, and how we argue about it. there are different, i will go back to angles of vision. there are different ways of seeing the eighteenth century, the seventeenth century, the american revolution, the role of the founders in perpetuating slavery and the problem is that we have people who are saying it is either this or is this as opposed to saying first, is the
evidence -- what is the evidence that is used in this set of materials or that set of materials where the evidence isn't very good you have to say this isn't very good and you can use it as a learning experience you throw in front of students and you say let's read this and you say to the students tell me what evidence this historian, or in this case group of journalists has mobilized to demonstrate their argument. what is the actual evidence? i am old-fashioned and use a blackboard, this is the evidence they marshaled. where does that evidence come from? you could do that with 1619, you can do that with the seventies in 76 -- 1776 report, 1619 however debatable it is and professional historians have been arguing over various
interpretive aspects of especially this notion of what a founding is, there were professionals involved. there were professional historians involved. the counterargument 1776 report there was not a single professional historian of the united states on that commission. there was one historian who studies ancient military history largely. basically did this totally bereft of any expertise whatsoever so these are not equivalent. the materials in the 1619 project, in some ways need to be looked at the same way other materials that are out there to be used by teachers.
what happened, they put things out there, they get reviewed, they get discussed, people say this doesn't work. a lot of existing textbooks are not that great. if you took economics in college you probably had a textbook written by a guy named samuelson, the 50edition. economists changed their minds more than historians do, but yes. scholarship and knowledge involved and it evolves by people with controversy. >> the news service peace, the 6019 project as being considered as part of the curriculum in 4500 schools nationwide. you mentioned some of the professional historians who are on the left who criticized the 1619 project. i have read it and people who criticize it haven't read it. some of the essays are quite good. most of the problems are with the main essay written by
nicole hannah jones, the great historian at princeton writing in a recent essay about the issues of the 1619 project beyond the factual mistakes about the american revolution being fought to preserve slavery, that was the main factual problem with 1619, goes on to say instead of trying to instruct the public about the significance of the year 1619 and hence the foundational importance of slavery and racism to american history the project promoted a narrow, heidi ideological view of the american past according to which white supremacy has been the nation's corporate billing chief mission ever since its founding so i understand your point about competing narratives, not the right way to look at this but on the one side we do have some folks saying our founding is -- has been a fraud. our principles were betrayed from day one and on the other side saying our glorious past, valley forge and d-day and
george washington never chop down a cherry tree. >> sean is a very good historian. i disagree with him, he disagrees with me, i disagree with him, we can sit here and talk about his first book and discuss its treatment of race, class, it is a brilliant book, but quite frankly as someone whose focus has been in african-american history, there are disagreements i would have with it and he and i would sit across the table in a very civil fashion and have this argument and it is the same with materials in the 1619 project. i can disagree with some of them. i can agree with some of them. i think that there is absolutely no reason why students cannot get into a really interesting discussion
of what founding means. what do we mean when we say founding. does founding means a moment that a nation is created. that makes sense to me, but there's other notions, does founding means the creation of the foundation upon which the nation grows, using the word foundation. those are very different ways of seeing it, students aren't stupid. they can understand the importance of arguing about this. in 1619 we can locate in some ways the beginnings of the institution of slavery in the united states and we can argue that slavery was the foundation of the economy in early years of the united states. >> a large part of the country,
absolutely. >> slavery was also by the early eighteenth century in essence baked in to the culture and social relations of much of the country and that gets you into a document about founding. a good example, historians actually were arguing for a while over the difference between a society with slaves and a slave society. the 1619 project is arguing we were a slave society from the beginning which is hard to argue with. people writing these laws saying deviation from the founding principles of american history are saying no, we were a society with slaves. we can excise that. that is different from saying
we were a slave society. if you think of a medical analogy and what you can excise. >> sean will end the objected to the premise of the 1619 project not because they deny the importance of slavery in american history, 4 million enslaved people in the united states, the civil war was fought over it but just as the 1776 project, 1619 sure and the american revolution into a narrative that from day one the american history has been an unbroken line of white supremacy to today, and another point along that narrative was abraham lincoln was a racist. thomas jefferson at statue was taken down in new york city. >> you had said has been unbroken. i think it would be hard to
argue that it included an unbroken line, two different things. >> there's more to our history the race. >> there's more to our history than race but you cannot understand our history without understanding that unbroken line. one of the major critics of the 1619 project going back to not just sean is james oates. >> a great historian. >> the title of his first book is called the ruling race so it is not as if he doesn't think this has not been some kind of continuous thread in american history and the difference between saying white supremacy has been the essence of american history as opposed to
white supremacy, and these are the two different kinds of things. that lincoln was a racist, this goes back to what historians do. >> in a civil manner. >> the most important book, in some ways, those highly visible book that i use lincoln was a racist was a biography of lincoln called abraham lincoln:racist. i don't agree with it. the author was my friend, we were good friends in chicago, we got along very well. we argued vigorously but we were friends, we respect each other as scholars and this is my point, that these are different ways of seeing
history and teachers and students benefit from these conversations. >> in our culture wars people can cherry pick facts without nuance, and when you say abraham lincoln was a racist, stages need to come down you overlook the fact that before he died he came around to supporting black suffrage and black civil rights and had he not been assassinated - >> it is important to know, this goes back to things, they are complicated and it is important to stand for principles with different political valences. the american historical association issued a strong criticism of the san francisco school board when it was about to change the name of 44 schools including abraham lincoln high school and we said no. don't have a process where you consulted historians, this was not a serious inquiry into the
histories of the people whose schools were named after, you shouldn't do this. >> things like sentences, new york city today, thomas jefferson at statue coming down from the city council chambers. >> before i -- of course they are worried about thomas jefferson. i'm a great admirer of a lot of jefferson's ideas, so i many americans in all places on the political spectrum. taking the statue of jefferson down, we can argue whether it should be taken down or not. there are a lot of statues of thomas jefferson. we are not erasing thomas jefferson from our history. >> who gets to decide who is honored and where is our next topic. when you appear on history as it happens in july around the
fourth anniversary of the unite the right rally, the confederate stages did come down -- in august, confederate stages came down in charlottesville, general lee and jackson. our discussion was really about why certain narratives gain ascendancy and why we today believe certain narratives or a certain version of history instead of say a different or more complete or revised version, the issue of the confederate statues is arguably the best one because as a yankee myself who flew down to washington, i am a yankee i guess, moved down to washington dc a decade ago and noticed over the river in alexandria there still streets and roads named after confederates and i was puzzled why that would be the case and in charlottesville, statues were not put up right after the civil war to honor battlefield
heroes, they were erected in 1924 as symbols of white power, the ku klux klan held a parade to celebrate statues and we got around to discussing the dining school. follow my premise and i will let you take away to explain the dining school. i alluded to it before his children and young adults, who have a certain set of values, beliefs, narratives and when introduced to new ideas it can be quite jarring to the senses, the dining school interpretation of the confederacy and reconstruction, from crazy guy and left field, a prestigious ivy league university, that narrative dominated scholarship for half a century so what was the dining school and why is it important? and why is that important for this discussion?
>> dunning was historian at colombia university, he had a lot of influence on the ways in which historians wrote about reconstruction and their argument in a nutshell was reconstruction was a failure, it was corrupt and the heroes of the period were the redeemers, the people, white southerners who basically drove the black and white republicans out of the statehouses and, quote, redeemed the governments of their states from this corruption. it just wasn't true. it was the way historians saw things for a century and by the 1960s historians were again
asking different questions, in some cases looking at evidence but had not been looked at before. the dunning school was the equivalent, or the follow-up to one what might call the phillips school of slavery, phillips, who taught at a school in the north, and ivy league school argued that slavery was a school, that was the metaphor he used and the children were let out too early, emancipation was premature, enslaved african americans were not ready for freedom. dunning follows that with an argument that these people who were not ready for freedom were easily manipulated by white northerners, yankees, and other african americans who instituted terribly corrupt
governments that did great harm but again it was seen, freed people as innocence childlike. if you look at -- >> a paternalistic view. >> worse than paternalistic in many ways. this was embodied powerfully in a film called birth of a nation in 1915 which had tremendous influence. one of the things that is important to know which we haven't been teaching until 30 years ago is african-americans across the north especially thought against the showing of the birth of a nation. in chicago it was band. >> subjected to statues going up in the 1920s. >> african-americans objected to the statues. the importance of the statues is the statue basically says to our children and visitors these
are the values that we honor. what i argue in the case of the statuary in the senate, in the fred fiumano, is the values that we honor, the people that we honor change. our population changes, our ideas change. our values change, everything changes, so why not say every generation, every 25 years let's step back, look at these statues and say is that still who we want to honor? >> the important point is just as some people today might object to the teaching of slavery or how much it is emphasized in i school classroom, 100 years ago you couldn't walk into a single heiskell classroom and learn cause of secession was slavery, the dunning school.
james mcpherson, the great historian has written about how the confederates or neo-confederates -- neo-confederates, mcpherson has written how the lost cause apologizes, the survivors of the confederacy understood how important the education system was, major children were present at these monument unveiling's, he wrote they did that so the rising generation with no personal memories of the war would understand the heroism of their fallen fathers, united daughters of the confederacy had children auxiliaries, daughters and of the confederate veterans groups had historical committees in the 1890s and published textbooks that were basically the textbooks used in the south and elsewhere for as we set about a century until the 1950s in 1960s and later than that. >> in the 50s and 60s, historian started to say this
stuff isn't true and textbooks take a bit of time. >> for my next subject, the cause of this or the result of this, here is a washington post poll of 2019. 52% of americans know slavery was the main cause of the civil war but 41% blame another reason to our earlier point about whether it is being taught, 1619 aside. >> let me emphasize this is complicated in some ways and in some ways it is not. 41%, on the other reason. dig into that poll. what we find, the other reason is states rights and so if i am
a teacher i am going to say what do we do with this? 52% say this, 41% say something% - i'm going to ask the students states rights to do what? is states rights really a principle by which people take up guns and die and kill other people? states rights for what? >> that was a means to a end. when it came to the fugitive slave act, northern states, people in northern states refusing to hand back black people to be enslaved and the slaveholders, another poll about the holocaust along the same lines, knowledge is superficial. most adults know what the
holocaust was and approximately when it happened but fewer than half correctly answer multiple-choice questions about the number of jews who were murdered or the way adolf hitler came to power, these are multiple-choice questions but the point is based on these poles and what we've been discussing the to do a better job educating everyone about history. i put myself in that list. and it is hard. and this climate it is difficult. holocaust in american history. most americans are not aware of what is communicated in the us holocaust museum which is most americans in the 1930s thought that americans knew what the nazis were doing, that is well documented in the exhibition. most americans thought it was horrible and jews were
suffering and what was going on was unconscionable and they also were opposed. the polls show they were opposed to letting jews into this country. that is a stain on american history. that's an uncomfortable aspect of our history and this is not a question of one side or the other. these are facts. materials that are on exhibits at the holocaust museum in a straightforward way, these should make us uncomfortable and that is part of what is going on. your mexican. so the founding manager of the mets. one of my heroes. one of my heroes turns out
casey stengel was available and racist. i did but know that either. i have to step back. this is uncomfortable. this is a childhood hero. i start reading most of my childhood heroes who were baseball players in the 1960s. >> i can't -- >> that is earlier. not very admirable. >> one of the greatest players of all time. >> not very admirable is an understatement. would you do with it? do you say these are just aberrations, deviance is? know. in the case of cobb, cobb hard to keep black people out major league baseball. you can't just say this is something in the past and we fixed it. because that became deeply embedded in major league baseball, that segregation. people suffered, people lost opportunities. we can't just dismiss it as an aberration.
it is uncomfortable. these are my heroes. >> you use the word civil historians debate things most of the time in a civil manner certainly on my podcast, there are no arguments but there is lack of civility in the controversy. we have seen news clips of parents and school board meetings who, i don't want to overgeneralize and say that all pitchforks and whatever the saying is that there's a lot of anger out there and some people are being threatened. it is a sensitive subject, i don't want anyone to think i'm painting all parents with a broad brush or all of their concerns aren't worth considering but there has been lack of civility about this so i will close on this point from the atlantic, an essay by george packer.
in civics save america, we can't agree on what is in civics education but there's agreement, switching to those polls, that civics education is failing, to the extent they get any at all what is your take? >> i think our testing data shows mathematics education is failing young people. i think we know some of the conversations about mask wearing there must be something about science education that is failing americans. we have a different kind of crisis here and it is true. lack of civic knowledge is a problem, no question. >> attack on expertise. >> attack on expertise, that is right. that is very different. civic education is about democracy and we also have our facts on democracy that are a problem.
the attack on expertise is a problem in terms of when we think about whether it is science or history, there is an attack on inquiry and that is where the civics problem comes in. do you look at our founding documents as bibles, or do you look at our founding documents in a historical context and to save these were created by people. who were these people? what values did they have? not saying these people were awful people. it is saying, who were they and what values did they have? it is complicated. how did that affect the documents that they wrote. >> makes it more interesting when it is complicated. >> kids are more interested than in it. teenagers don't want problems fit to them and quite frankly we know it doesn't work. historical precedent for what
you've been describing is mccarthyism in the 1950s. we've seen this before. recently, one of the publications where people are in favor of this legislation, they said if your candidate teachers using any of the following 10 or 20 phrases then they are teaching crt. that is almost word for word, if your kids teachers are using the following words they must be communists. this was already in the united states and the 50s and 60s. 59 years old, that means i am roughly the same age as a lot of people in school for are older than me, there's not a lot of communists out there. if the teachers were indoctrinating -- >> my leftist history and political science professors in
college joke around with me, we are trying to undermine and subvert american society we are doing a pretty bad job grossman of the american historical association, thank you for this conversation. >> mine also too because that is what historians do. we try to get people thinking. that is our goal. >> we will get people thinking by listening to history as it happens podcast. you are on an episode recently. charlottesville says goodbye to the confederacy. from the washington times i want to thank everybody for watching this conversation. have a great day. >> get c-span on the go, watch the biggest political events live or on demand anytime anywhere on our new mobile video apps c-span now. access top highlights, listen to c-span radio and discover new podcasts all for free. download c-span now today.
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