Throughout his presidency, Trump has accused teachers, especially history teachers, as “indoctrinating” students to “hate America.” I joined four other state teachers of the year,* who all teach history, to set the record straight about what transpires in our classrooms.
In a somber back-to-school season gripped by the pandemic, President Donald Trump late last month announced a commission to promote a “patriotic education.” He provides a bleak picture of our nation’s classrooms, a radical wasteland where “left wing” teachers indoctrinate children to “hate America.” And despite a growing movement of educators calling for a more culturally diverse curriculum that acknowledges the impact of slavery and systemic racism in our country, Trump decries this push toward truth as “a form of child abuse.”
We, five of our nation’s teachers of the year, are deeply troubled by this.
A “patriotic education,” as we see it, is one where we embrace and value all students’ worth and dignity while creating spaces for them to consider the realities of our country, past and present, to build a better tomorrow. As teachers, we know that in our classrooms, we can hold our national victories, struggles, accomplishments, and missteps close while promising to fight together for a nation “of the people, by the people, for the people.” This is patriotism; this is American.
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* Here are the coauthors of this piece:
- Takeru “TK” Nagayoshi, the 2020 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, teaches high school English and research in New Bedford.
- Erin McCarthy, the 2020 Wisconsin Teacher of the Year, teaches 8th grade social studies in Greendale.
- Cecilia Chung, the 2020 Hawaii State Teacher of the Year, teaches 6th grade English/language arts and social studies on Oahu.
- Lynette Stant, a 3rd grade teacher from the Dine’ Nation, is the 2020 Arizona Teacher of the Year. She teaches on the Salt River Indian Reservation in Scottsdale.