October 12, 2020
“Department of Education is looking at this. If so, they will not be funded!” Trump tweeted.
The New York Times Magazine’s Pulitzer prize-winning “The 1619 Project” was released in 2019 to mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first slave ship to America. It reframes American history by considering the arrival of slaves in America as “the country’s very origin,” according to the introduction.
“The stories we tell about our nation’s history matter deeply, and the 1619 Project offers us a new set of stories by ‘placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are’,” said Janice Jackson, the CEO of Chicago Public Schools, in a Sept. 2019 post announcing the decision to use “The 1619 Project’s” curriculum, which was created in partnership with The Pulitzer Center.
The project has now been adopted in more than 3,500 classrooms in all 50 states, according to the Pulitzer Center’s 2019 annual report.
The president’s refusal to fund schools that use “The 1619 Project’s” curriculum comes the day after he banned federal agencies from conducting racial sensitivity training related to “critical race theory” and “white privilege.” The president has also been hesitant to acknowledge the existence of systemic racism in America at all, and his national security advisor, Robert O’Brien, denied it’s existence in May.
“Critical race theory, the 1619 project, and the crusade against American history is toxic propaganda, ideological poison that if not removed will dissolve the civic bonds that tie us together,” said Trump at a White House Conference on American History on Sept. 17.
Joshua Sandman, professor of legal studies and political science at the University of New Haven, believes that Trump’s criticism of “The 1619 Project” could be part of his campaign strategy.
“It is an appeal to his patriotic base who see the 1619 Project as an unfair characterization of American history,” he said.
The president also recently announced an executive order to establish a “1776 Unites Commission” that would focus on promoting “patriotic education.”
According to the 1776 Unites website, the founders are “building a positive movement in response to the overwhelming narratives of oppression, grievance and ignorance to America’s history — and its promise for the future.”
The Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, acknowledged that the federal government does not play a role in deciding the national curriculum, but praised the 1776 Unites curriculum – which maintains that the true origin of America was the signing of the declaration of independence.
“Curriculum is best left to the states and local districts at local education agencies, but we can talk about a curriculum that actually honors and respects our history and embraces all of the parts of our history and continues to build on that,” she said.
“Trump promoting the 1776 Unite Curriculum is part of a strategy to bring out the maximum numbers of voters among patriotic supporters,” said Sandman, who is an internationally recognized scholar on the American presidency.
“[He] is concerned with the upcoming election. He is in a tight and competitive race with Joe Biden. The contest for the Electoral College majority is much closer than national popular vote polls indicate,” he said.