NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

New Jersey's Proposed History Standards Omit Founding Fathers

January 28, 2002

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin are not included in the revised version of the New Jersey Department of Education history standards -- a move critics view as political correctness at its worst.

  • The Pilgrims and the Mayflower are also excluded, as well as the word "war," which has been replaced as "conflict" in lessons about the early settlers, colonization and expansion.
  • Yet state board officials did add, in their first draft, the names of slavery opponents Theodore Dwight Weld and Angelina and Sarah Grimke in the section about the Civil War and Reconstruction periods.
  • Also gone are most references to the inhumane treatment many American soldiers endured in wars overseas during the 20th century.
  • However, the standards specifically note that students should identify slavery, the Holocaust and modern Iraq as examples "in which people have behaved in cruel and inhumane ways."

David Saxe, a Penn State University education professor who reviews state history standards nationwide for the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, called the proposed New Jersey standards a "historical irresponsibility." The foundation gave the state's history standards a failing grade last time it reviewed them. The new standards have not yet been approved by the state.

The New Jersey legislature has endured a 15-year-long debate over whether to allow public school students to recite a passage from the Declaration of Independence. Some in that body argue that the passage which begins: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..." to be insensitive to women and blacks.

Source: Ellen Sorokin, "No Founding Fathers? That's Our New History," Washington Times, January 28, 2002.


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