Ohioans debate how to teach history

Updated: May. 21, 2021 at 6:54 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - A national debate over how we teach American history to our children is heating up on a local level.

Ohio attorney general Dave Yost is speaking out against a Biden administration education policy. The president wants to offer a grant for schools that adopt the 1619 project curriculum method of studying history that is centered around the African American experience, including slavery.

It was crafted by the Pulitzer Center based on a long-form project published in the New York Times after the year slaves were first brought to the United States.

“History’s always controversial. That’s sort of the point,” says Bowling Green State University associate professor Nicole Jackson.

Jackson teaches African American history.

“We don’t teach enough about how most people experienced history. Literally. We don’t have a full understanding of how indigenous people experienced their land disappearing and being ripped from them and a country forming on top of it... We so often center the government, politicians, the rich, men, those who are heterosexual, that is such a small slice of American history,” she says.

The 1619 project aims to infuse more of those perspectives into the history curriculum, particularly focusing on African American contributions to the building of the nation. Biden is seeking to create a grant that would help schools looking to incorporate the courses.

Attorney general Yost disapproves, signing his name to a letter next to 18 other attorneys general stating that this is federal overreach. States have the right to form their own curricula.

“For the last fifty years, as the federal government has grown, that’s the way that they incentivize, or get the states to do what they want,” says Jon Jakubowski.

Jakubowski founded the 1776 Initiative, a group dedicated to studying the Declaration of Independence, and how it still applies to everyone today. He opposes the 1619 project being brought into the schools.

“Any curriculum that advances one’s skin color as the pure basis to the lens through which we must see history which creates inferiority and even dehumanizes, must be rejected,” says Jakubowski.

But as the debate rages on, there is common ground: a love for America.

“All men are created equal. They’re endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and every American should have the right to pursue those,” says Jakubowski.

“You don’t ask to be included in the narrative of a country if you hate it,” says Jackson.

Copyright 2021 WTVG. All rights reserved.