Saturday, January 28, 2012

Tea Party Group Wants To 'Soften' Slavery In Textbooks

Some political groups are asking Tennessee lawmakers to re-write history, or at least how it is taught. Some members of the Tea Party say what's in your kid's textbook may be giving them a negative opinion about our nation's founding history.

What do you remember about American History class? Chances are you took away the basics; the birth of a democracy and a roller-coaster of ups-and-downs. But some Tea Party members say those basics are flawed when it comes to textbooks.

"My biggest concern is that important information is being omitted, which creates a negative light on our Founding Fathers," said Tea Party activist Brian Rieck.

Many members of the group are asking Tennessee lawmakers to tweak textbooks so that doesn't happen. Notably, they're hoping to make changes in how slavery and encroachment on Native Americans are portrayed to students.

"Slavery is of course portrayed in the textbooks nowadays I'm sure as a totally negative thing. Had there not been slavery in the South, the economy would've fallen," Rieck said.

Rieck told News 5 without offering that balance, the Founding Fathers, many of whom were slave owners, could be slighted for their contributions in the eyes of students.

But when teaching her grandchildren about our past, Jackie Leonard says that's not something that goes through the mind. "I think it was a bad thing, and I think that our children today need to know that," said Leonard.It's also a worry for educators like C.J. Manahan who teach from those textbooks.

"I feel they do a pretty good job of presenting [history] objectively already," said Manahan.

Manahan, an eighth-grade American History teacher, tells us making these types of changes could send mixed signals on what it means to be an American.

"We can't create opinions from history. You know, [many Founding Fathers] were slaves owners, yes. That's true, and if people choose to have an opinion of that being negative, that is their right. So, it's not anybody's place to decide what everyone's opinions happen to be," Manahan said.