Emphasize unity, not solely division | AspenTimes.com

Emphasize unity, not solely division

Dear members of the Colorado Board of Education:

Thank you for the opportunity to make these comments on the proposed social studies standards developed by your advisory committee. What are our credentials to submit these comments? We come from a range of economic backgrounds, we are young and old, we represent a variety of ethnicities.

Some of us barely made it out of high school, while many have graduate degrees, some of us have served our country in the military, we work in a variety of fields, including education, most of us are parents or grandparents, all of us have ancestors who came to the United States for a better life, whether to escape poverty, government repression or religious persecution in their own countries.

We all favor the unvarnished teaching of social studies — the good, the bad and the ugly — but to focus only on the ugly, as the proposed standards do, is neither a true nor an honest representation of this country’s history and will not help our students become educated members of the community. By failing to recognize the sacrifices of many disadvantaged groups over time, the proposed standards will serve only to separate our children from their common humanity.

For example, page after page of the proposed standards identify certain groups whom the authors of the standards apparently believe are disadvantaged, without identifying other groups for whom this country has served as a refuge from poverty and oppression, even from death in the case of LGBTQ persons in some countries. We can all agree that slavery and Jim Crow, as well as the use of indentured Chinese to build the railroads, and the westward expansion of the country at the expense of native Americans are blots on our history. Hopefully, we all agree that these groups have proven capable of surmounting the challenges they encountered and, in many cases, have prospered in the United States.

While the proposed standards mention our foundational documents, such as the Constitution (including the Bill of Rights) and the Declaration of Independence, as well as the basic structure of our government, such as the three branches of government, these are not emphasized even though they are so vital to understanding why our country endures despite our many differences.

We ask that the proposed standards be totally rethought with an emphasis on the shared experiences that unite us as citizens of the United States.

Thank you again for allowing us to comment on the proposed standards.

Frieda Wallison (among more than 350 signatories)

Old Snowmass

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