The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Opinion | History education must be protected from Iowa Republicans

The Iowa Legislature passed a bill that reforms social studies education. The result will be an inaccurate, negligent version of history for students.
Ayrton Breckenridge
The Iowa State Capitol is seen in Des Moines on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024.

Knowledge of history is invaluable, and Iowa Republicans are trying to rip it away from students.

The Iowa House and Senate approved a bill, House File 2545, on April 17 that would require new topics in social studies curriculums for K-12 students. The bill, which is now part of a larger bill, is headed to the governor’s office. These topics include a focus on “Western civilization,” and are backed by the Civics Alliance, a national group whose stated mission is to prevent education from being used as “a recruitment tool of the progressive left.”

Upon closer examination, it is clear the result of this bill would be a skewed representation of United States history based on nothing but delusion. Hopefully, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has the sense to veto this bill.

“If you’re in America, you need to know our history and our heritage,” Rep. Skyler Wheeler, R-Hull, a backer of the bill, said as reported in the Des Moines Register. “You need to know Western civilization, you need to know the things laid out in this bill.”

I wholeheartedly agree with Wheeler; people need to know U.S. history and heritage. However, I worry that the history and heritage taught by this proposed curriculum would be a cushy, dishonest, and ignorant perspective, and one that would harm marginalized students.

Don’t take it from me, however — take it from the National Council for Social Studies, which represents over 10,000 U.S. educators and directly opposes the Civics Alliance’s proposed curriculum, which is titled “American Birthright,” and contains concerning statements such as “we love the richness of humanity and we regret every concept, fact, and individual we could not include.”

 Don’t let them fool you: The Alliance’s omission of this unnamed content was not by simple circumstance. It was a conscious choice made to push an agenda based on lies. Whether they realize it or not, Iowa lawmakers who work to shield people’s eyes and brains from an honest history of the U.S. and Western civilization are deathly afraid of empathy.

Republican legislators cannot dispute the facts of history. They are afraid that people won’t be blind servants to Uncle Sam if they learn the ugly parts of U.S. history. The only weapon they have left is to manipulate our education of that history until it looks pretty.

“Indoctrination” is perhaps the most widely misunderstood term that pops up everywhere in modern politics. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, to indoctrinate is defined as “to imbue with a usually partisan or sectarian opinion, point of view, or principle.”

When students are indoctrinated, they are not given the chance to know anything that could sway their beliefs away from the main content they are taught.

Critical thinking requires knowledge of all the available facts and factors of something, and then making a fair judgment. This proposed Western-centric curriculum will not give students this opportunity.

An accurate history of the U.S. involves teaching things like the deep-rooted systemic racism that still exists and the mountains of evidence that support it, according to the United Nations.

These politicians are afraid that people’s basic empathy will compromise their patriotism, so they try to stop people from learning about our truthful history.

It’s almost hilarious how hypocritical this whole situation is. Refusing to teach accurate history is a practice that conservatives often attribute to nations like North Korea and ideologies like communism, which they constantly decry, according to NBC.

How is this bill any different in nature? If a similar bill was proposed by China’s government, the outcry from Republicans would be deafening.

Again, I see no empirical dispute from conservatives as to the accuracy of the history that needs to be taught. I only see concerns about what education will mean for patriotic Americans.

If you must neglect history to promote an ideology, you are in the wrong; full stop.

I feel sorry for the Iowa students who are at the mercy of these numbskulls who can’t accept that their glorious homeland is not the beacon of human rights they’ve always thought it was.

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About the Contributors
Evan Weidl
Evan Weidl, Opinions Editor
Evan Weidl is a senior majoring in political science. He previously worked in the opinions section as a columnist.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Ayrton Breckenridge, Managing Visuals Editor
Ayrton Breckenridge is the Managing Visuals Editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. This is his fourth year working for the DI.