Fighting Censorship: Teaching History

Current Events & News, Legislation | 10/29/2021

Yazmin Castro
9th Grader from Phoenix, AZ

Students deserve to learn accurate U.S. history. Our country’s future depends on it. 

As a student in high school, I am always reminded to think about my future. What would I like to do as a career? Will I have the skills I need? What does it take to be a good citizen?  I’ve been lucky to have great teachers. They dedicate themselves to teaching valuable skills that will help in college, my future career, and the relationships I will make. 

In History class I am learning some of the most valuable lessons – it’s where I’m taught about Civics and American History, including the challenges our country has faced and how we got through them. I am also learning how to take those lessons and apply them to issues that my generation faces now. I’m learning how to think critically about information and current events, and how to think about my role in the success of our nation.  

This is why it is so important for me to learn a thorough, accurate, and fact-based account of American history. If we want to avoid making the mistakes of the past, we must be able to talk about it. 

Failing to teach accurate history deprives young people like me the quality education we deserve.  

Sadly, this is happening here in my home state. Recently, loud and powerful voices have organized to pass HB 2898 - an attack on local school districts attempting to teach important issues in schools.  

Legislation like this encourages teachers to brush past difficult parts of our history or omit them entirely for fear of being sued. I’m very worried that if this continues, students like me will get half the story, and half-truths.  

Censoring teachers only disadvantages students and our whole nation in the long run. That is why I am speaking up, and I hope you will join me!

Misinformation and inflammatory and inaccurate labels are being spread online about what is being taught in schools, which in almost every case bears no relationship to what is actually being taught, how teachers are teaching, and what students themselves want to learn. 

This divisive political climate is leading to censorship of my classes. For example, the misinformation that some are promoting is creating fear and division to the point where students like me cannot learn about the role that racism has played in our nation's past and present. This is wrong. 

How can we move forward to a better future without learning from the mistakes of the past? Mistakes that are still being repeated today. Why can teachers not teach that racism played a significant role in our past and, sadly, it continues to be widespread and harmful to us all?  

We cannot allow a small group of loud and powerful people to censor teachers and control what we learn about our country.  

A broad majority of Americans want schools to teach an accurate and truthful presentation of our history. They also believe that racism is a widespread problem and not something that can be dismissed. This means students like me need to learn about racism as part of American history lessons.  

Which means we need you to stand up against legislation that seeks to censor teachers doing just that. 

A high-quality public education includes learning an accurate, fact-based account of U.S. history. Add your name today if you believe students deserve to hear the truth about our nation's past. 

Honest conversations about our country’s past and present are the best way to heal, foster understanding and create the future all students deserve. For the sake of students, teachers, and the future, we cannot remain silent.  

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