The Woodson Center has a suggestion for school boards battling with parents over critical race theory: Adopt the 1776 Unites curriculum instead.
Members of the center’s 1776 Unites initiative urged the National Association of School Boards and local boards to consider its social studies and English lessons that “celebrate Black excellence, reject victimhood culture, and showcase the millions of African Americans who have prospered by embracing their country’s founding ideals.”
“The Woodson Center’s 1776 Unites initiative stands in unqualified opposition to any curricula that depict America as irredeemably racist; teach that the legacies of slavery, racial segregation, and other appalling crimes are insurmountable; or fail to provide examples from history of Black achievement against the odds,” said the letter, signed by a group of scholars led by Woodson Center founder Robert L. Woodson.
The free curriculum, developed last year in response to the hotly debated 1619 Project making its way into schools, has been downloaded more than 17,000 times in all 50 states, the center said.
“We ask that your schools instead adopt curricula that, rather than completely reject our founding values, instead embrace the ideas of family, faith, and entrepreneurship that have enabled all Americans — including Black Americans — throughout history to move from persecution to prosperity, and will continue to do so for generations to come,” the letter said.
The center’s push comes with a culture war raging in K-12 education as red states push back against progressive school boards and teachers’ unions promoting critical race theory, which supporters defend as an accurate view of the nation’s racist history and foes decry as a race-based form of Marxist indoctrination.
At least a dozen red states have banned teaching concepts associated with critical race theory through legislation or resolutions passed by state boards of education.
The 1776 Unites curriculum was developed by a “nonpartisan and intellectually diverse Black-led alliance of writers, educators, thinkers, and activists focused on solutions to our country’s greatest challenges in education, culture, race relations, and upward mobility,” the letter said.
The focus is on “continuity, not rupture,” “dignity, not grievance,” and “resilience, not fragility” when teaching about slavery and racism.
“1776 Unites confronts the realities of slavery and racism in American history while also recognizing them as betrayals of our founding’s highest principles,” said the letter.
Signers of the letter include 1776 Unites board members Carol Swain, founder of the Be the People Project; Brown University economics professor Glenn Loury; DePaul University philosophy professor Jason Hill, and Charles Love, executive director of Seeking Educational Excellence.