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Taking Back America By Taking Back Our Schools

Florida School History Fair: A Race Class Gender Perspective

3-7-14 The Report Card

By Bill Korach

This week, the St. John County School District held their annual National Day of History Fair, and I was asked to be a judge. The theme of this year’s National History Day was “Rights and Responsibilities.” The student volunteers, who were mostly between the ages of 11-15, were given broad latitude on topic selection. But according to Travis Brown, fair coordinator and social studies specialist, topic selection was up to the teachers, but many teachers left it to the students to select a topic. I found the majority of submissions to be focused on race, class and gender topics. Race, class gender history according to the National association of Scholars, is the vogue and most universities today. As a result, high schools across the county are now looking at history through the perspective of victimhood. In this worldview, America has very few virtues, but is taken with racism, bigotry and oppression.

Students has the option of writing a paper, creating a website or building a display, and clearly they put some effort into it. Of the 13 papers, 21 websites and 10 exhibits I was asked to judge at least 90% were focused on topics like racial discrimination, animal rights, feminism, gay/lesbian rights, discrimination against Muslims after 9/11, and the right to teach evolution vs. creationism. In addition, many of the papers had come to a conclusion first, and did research to support their views later. For example, the paper on creationism vs. evolution stated that evolution was a proven theory developed by scientists, but creationism was offered up by “Bible thumpers.” Why did the teacher allow such an inappropriate turn of phrase? The paper on 9/11 Rights and Responsibilities stated “Many Americans believe the American response to 9/11 was overly aggressive and caused discrimination against Muslims.” However, there was no discussion about how Muslim terrorists murdered 3000 innocent civilians. There was no discussion about how Muslims can live in peace in America, but Jews and Christians in the Muslim world are persecuted and murdered.

Business and free enterprise suffers as well. A website on the Economic Rights and Responsibilities of consumers and business tars business’s as greedy and underhanded in causing pain to consumers, but offers no discussion of the free market economy. Similarly, Sea World is shown to be cruel and indifferent to the well being of the whales on display.

Strangely, a website that discussed WWII soldiers, made no value judgment on Nazism, the Holocaust or Japanese aggression in Asia. The website authors confined themselves to saying something nice about the German and Japanese soldiers. The American Army on the other hand “thought it should be segregated.” This site also contained some truly egregious factual and grammatical errors: “The army deemed the African-American soldiers to be in the front lines.” Deemed is used improperly and African American soldiers were not permitted in the front lines. Why did the teacher catch and cause these mistakes to be corrected? Why did the teacher allow the Nazi and Japanese soldiers to be portrayed in a better light than the American soldier?

One paper reflected a clear opinion of how Communism affects the rights of the people, but it made the erroneous statement that “The Soviet Union is one of the remaining Communist powers in the world today.” But The Soviet Union ceased to exist 20 years ago, and Russia is no longer officially Communist. Again, where was the teacher? How can students learn unless they are given correction?

A Pro-Planned Parenthood display that also praised the founder Margaret Sanger, failed to mention that Sanger was an early supporter of the Nazi Party and lived in Nazi Germany for several years in the 1930’s. Sanger founded Planned Parenthood’s because she believed in eugenics, and that the growing population of Jews, Italians and blacks should be reduced.

In fairness, there were some truly excellent submissions. A paper on the rights and responsibilities of tobacco companies took the novel approach of supporting the First Amendment right of tobacco companies to advertise on television. A paper discussed the moral dilemma of Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele who used his medical skills to torture and maim concentration camp prisoners. A thoughtful display on Stem Cell research compared the very real medical benefits to the very real moral dilemma. The author presented the topic through thorough research and clear analysis.

The students would have been better served by deeper teacher involvement, criticism and correction. While they were at it, the teachers might have taught the students some of America’s virtues like freedom of religion and individual liberty. Next year, hopefully the Fair will be fairer.

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