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Letter: Revised history standards a return to ‘indoctrination’

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The Richmond Kickers Soccer Club makes for tremendous community entertainment but the club also uses their spare time, and games, to give back and support the community. Segment from 8@4 presented by VCU Massey Cancer Center from the Virginia Wayside Furniture studio.

This is a letter to the editor from The Times-Dispatch opinion page. Submit your letter here.

Revised history standards a return to ‘indoctrination’

As a student of history and citizen of Virginia for more than sixty years I write to share my concerns about the recent draft "Guiding Principles" for Virginia's K-12 history standards.

Growing up in Virginia, I was taught a history in which "great men" drove events and America's unblemished past unrolled in a series of inspirational tales. But this was less history than indoctrination, and the "Principles" would take us right back there.

For example, the "Principles" juxtapose "free enterprise" against "socialism" as opposed systems of government. But they're neither forms of government nor even necessarily opposed economic systems. Unrestrained versus regulated capitalism is the great balancing act of American history.

Take the Civil War. On one side we had slavery, with Black labor producing America's major exports and Black bodies composing the largest share of national capital. On the other was emancipation, the Homestead Act, and the transcontinental railroad – two sides of capitalism with the more humane one thankfully triumphant. And Virginians were on both sides.

The standards of learning already proposed by educators and the public understand that. Let's not stint their work with "Principles" prepared by the governor's political consultants.

Michael Schaffner.



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