Former Education Secretary Bill Bennett has launched an online distance-learning curriculum to help middle and high school teachers cover U.S. history more rigorously and without political bias.
The website, titled “The Story of America,” draws stories from Mr. Bennett’s bestselling books “America: The Last Best Hope” and “The Book of Virtues” as primary resources to sharpen students’ critical reading and writing skills.
It will be fully released as a bilingual English-Spanish program in fall 2022.
“For too long, an anti-America ideology that radically misrepresents U.S. history has infiltrated our education system and misled our kids,” Mr. Bennett said in an announcement Monday.
Mr. Bennett, who served as education secretary under President Ronald Reagan from 1985 to 1988, added that the material “will shine a light on our current educational crisis and share the history of our country with the next generation in a way that is truthful, engaging, and gives students the full, complex story of America, which is sadly no longer shared in many of our classrooms.”
The Today Foundation, which previously designed an interactive Texas History Awakens curriculum, is following the same model with Mr. Bennett’s initiative, providing a platform that draws students more personally into the story of U.S. history as it unfolds over time.
“A truthful understanding of our nation’s history, devoid of political activism, is an essential component of that education,” said Richard Collins, who started the foundation.
Educators involved in the project said it combines style and substance to get teenagers excited about reading and writing history.
Dan Kuenster, an Emmy-winning former animator and executive with Disney Animations Studios, said he’s worked to craft the new website’s multi-dimensional and interactive visual design along the lines of his earlier work on the Texas curriculum.
“In order for any educational program to be successful, it must be engaging for the student,” he said.
Kathleen Leos, a former assistant deputy secretary at the Department of Education, said the new curriculum’s focus on critical reading and writing instruction returns the focus of history classrooms to facts and skills.
“Across our country, politics has replaced teaching at the expense of our children. Politicized classrooms have caused education standards to fall, leaving children without the proper core competencies in literacy and history,” Ms. Leos said.
Designed especially for independent school districts and for homeschooling educators, the program’s materials focus on “schools and parents concerned about declining American history and literacy standards.”
The project cites National Assessment of Educational Progress statistics which have shown scores for reading comprehension and history in steady decline across the country.