From “The Conversation” newsletter, May 15, 2023:

“The Florida Department of Education announced on April 10, 2023, that it had rejected 35% of the social studies books publishers submitted for approval and use in the state’s public schools. The move was based on a determination the books contain references to social justice issues ‘and other information’ not aligned with Florida Law.’”

“I direct Penn State programs – the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Education Initiative and the Hammel Family Human Rights Initiative – that give my colleagues and me a real-time glimpse into the vulnerable state of K-12 instruction about difficult topics.”

“As a documentary filmmaker and assistant professor of journalism, I often discuss difficult topics with students. After a rough-cut university screening of my forthcoming documentary “Cojot,” which tells the story of Holocaust survivor Michel Cojot’s 1970s quest to kill his father’s Nazi executioner, two college students approached me apologetically, saying, ‘We’ve never heard of this.’

“To spare them embarrassment, I noted the protagonist’s obscurity. That’s why I’ve made this film, I said.

“Shaking their heads, the students stressed they’d ‘never heard about any of this.’

“They were talking about the Holocaust.”


Thank you, as always, for sharing Otis. He lifts my sad and angry heart.

Expand full comment

There is an even more dangerous clause in SB266, which was signed on Monday, and that we will soon see expanded to other states, such as Texas: "General education core courses may not distort significant historical events or include a curriculum that teaches identity politics, or is based on theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political, and economic inequities." Such a fabulist approach to teaching American history -- without reference to even privilege or, strikingly, the inequities built into founding institutions -- means that only founding fables, with America's founding as a perfect myth, can be taught to students in the core courses.

Expand full comment