- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 20, 2002

"Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001," observed Diane Ravitch, a distinguished professor of education, "no one needs to be reminded about how important it is to learn history." No one, it now seems, except the National Education Association (NEA).
The nation's largest teachers' union has essentially used the September 11 massacre to peddle its own version of moral equivalency. And when it becomes impossible to avoid assessing blame, the reliably left-wing union recommends pointing the finger at the United States in a classic blame-America-first fusillade.
NEA staff have apparently busied themselves this summer preparing lesson plans cautioning teachers not to "suggest any group is responsible" for the terrorist airliner hijackings that led to the massacre of more than 3,000 innocent people on American soil on September 11. "Blaming is especially difficult in terrorist situations," the NEA bemoans, "because someone is at fault." Yes, the wholesale murder of thousands of innocents does tend to cause some to become obsessed with finding the blameworthy perpetrators.
But not the NEA. "In this country," the NEA disgustingly lectures long after overwhelming evidence has been provided, "we still believe that all people are innocent until solid, reliable evidence from our legal authorities proves otherwise." In other words, the moral equivalizers at the NEA refuse to take at face value the words representing the de facto admission of guilt by the anti-Western fanatic Osama bin Laden. The leader of al Qaeda, an Islamist terrorist organization, has both been seen and heard on videotape bragging, "We calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy who would be killed based on the position of the tower."
It is tempting to characterize the NEA as a see-no-evil, hear-no-evil institution inhabiting its own self-delusional world. But that would be in error. In fact, the NEA had no problem preparing September 11 lesson plans teaching students about evil. In its blame-America-first reaction, for example, the NEA urges teachers to "discuss historical instances of American intolerance," citing the "[i]nternment of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor" as one of several "obvious examples."
Miss Ravitch, a renowned historian in her own right, cannot be the least bit surprised that the NEA has flunked its role in conveying to students the historical circumstances of September 11. She is a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which is responsible for setting policy for the various subject tests, including U.S. history, administered by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). As such, Miss Ravitch undoubtedly knows all too well that the NEA is more responsible than any other institution for the low levels of historical knowledge imparted to American students.
In fact, the above quotation from Miss Ravitch appeared in her May 9 statement decrying the "truly abysmal" results among high school seniors on NAEP's 2001 U.S. history test. (Duplicating the performance of seniors in 1994, 57 percent of 12th-grade students scored below the basic level in U.S. history, the highest percentage of ineptitude recorded for any NAEP subject.) "Clearly, our high schools are failing to teach U.S. history well," Miss Ravitch concluded in May. That assessment surely will not be changed by the September 11 lesson plans prepared by the NEA.

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