Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republicans demand the Biden administration revoke federal grants from schools that include the 1619 project in their curriculum

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Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., listens as the Senate Rules Committee holds a hearing on the "For the People Act," which would expand access to voting and other voting reforms, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, March 24, 2021. Scott J. Applewhite/AP
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell urged the Education Department to avoid support for the 1619 Project.

  • In a letter, he and dozens of other Senate Republicans said the project is an attempt at historical "revisionism."

  • The project seeks to explain how the experiences of Africans who appeared on US soil in 1619 shaped systemic inequalities still in place today.

  • Sign up for our daily newsletter 10 Things in Politics You Need to Know Today.

Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urged Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to encourage public schools to strip from their curricula projects that he claims promote "revisionism" of US history.

In a letter dated April 29, McConnell and 38 other Senate Republicans specifically referenced the New York Times' 1619 Project, created to mark the date Africans arrived on American ground. The project's goal to is place "the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative."

McConnell said the 1619 Project and other programs strive to "reorient" US history "away from their intended purposes toward a politicized and divisive agenda."

"Actual, trained, credentialed historians with diverse political views have debunked the project's many factual and historical errors, such as the bizarre and inaccurate notion that preserving slavery was a primary driver of the American Revolution," the letter says.

Since its 2019 launch, the project has received criticism and pushback, namely from Republican lawmakers and white historians.

Some states have begun to implement the project in their curriculum. But the Education Department has not directly told public schools to use or incorporate it. Usually, school curriculum falls at the discretion of state governments rather than any federal agency.

But under President Joe Biden, the Education Department has floated the possibility of offering grants to schools that include the 1619 Project and similar materials in their learning plans.

"We request that you withdraw these Proposed Priorities and refocus on civic education and American history programs that will empower future generations of citizens to continue making our nation the greatest force for good in human history," the letter says.

In a statement to Insider, an Education Department spokesperson characterized the inclusion of materials like the 1619 Project in school curricula as a chance to take seriously the country's history of systemic inequality and racism.

"The background of the Notice of Proposed Priorities includes examples of how institutions and individuals are finally acknowledging the legacy of systemic inequities in this country and paying attention to it," the spokesperson said. "The Department welcomes comments on the Proposed Priorities until May 19, 2021."

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