Growing up in Northern Virginia, we often took our out-of-town visitors to Mount Vernon and Monticello. What I remember most about being ushered past the red velvet ropes through the crowded, 18th century-styled rooms is how the guides refused to answer my questions.

In response to the guide’s prideful exclamation that “The General” always wore perfectly starched shirts, I asked how much the women who ironed them were paid. I was keen to know because my mother paid me $5 each Sunday night to iron five of my father’s shirts for the upcoming week. I sincerely wondered how George Washington’s help was compensated.

No wonder I understood so little of our country’s foundational history; slavery was literally a sidebar in my K-12 history books.

Still today, schools teach our children to recite the Declaration of Independence while never learning about the only book Thomas Jefferson published, Notes on The State of Virginia. Our second president’s 1785 book argued that “Blacks … are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind.” To justify white supremacy, Jefferson concluded: “Nature, habit, opinion has drawn indelible lines of distinction between them.”

As Americans, we should learn from history and hold ourselves to higher standards as we teach our children the entire truth, however uncomfortable, about our founding principles. Teaching the legacy of slavery today will allow us to see the origins of racial and social inequality in order to effectively address the divisive issues that continue to weaken our country today.

Our children must understand our past to be equipped to resolve these societal challenges for the next generation of civic leaders in our communities. Let’s erase the lines drawn by our founding fathers and celebrate our common American values of life, liberty, and justice for all.

Thank you.

As a student in the 1980s, I never imagined that the history lessons I received at my well-regarded high school omitted important portions of our country’s past. But that is indeed what happened.

Filling in these missing pieces decades later as an adult left me feeling disappointed in my history education and with the realization that I had been making assumptions about the world around me from a historical knowledge base with gaping holes.

Now as a parent and community member, I understand two things: First that teaching an honest and complete account of our country’s history is essential. It’s essential to achieving our goals of helping children become adults who can think critically and who won’t repeat the mistakes of the past. And second, we can’t assume that our local schools are teaching a full and truthful history. It’s up to us as parents and community members to tell our local school boards and superintendents that we do not want our children to receive a partial or cherry-picked history of our country.

That’s why I am grateful for the Learn from History Coalition. I appreciate knowing I’m not alone, that people and groups from across Illinois and across the country are working together and sharing ideas to support our schools in teaching the kind of history that will prepare our students for the world they will enter and one day lead.

I will keep doing this work because I don’t want today’s students to become adults and wonder what they are missing, as I did.

I hope you will join us.

As a recent Illinois high school graduate, I know better than most in our community how American history is taught in schools. The history I learned was good but often focused on just the highlights – think the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights. It wasn’t perfect or entirely complete, but it was a better curriculum than many students across the country receive.

That’s why I am proud to support the work of the Learn from History coalition. At its core, the coalition is here to support students learning a full and accurate history education. Together, we know that students (like me and my fellow 2021 grads) need critical thinking skills to be the leaders of tomorrow in a complex, diverse society.

My perspective on Illinois students learning false history is plain and simple: I don’t believe that we should be teaching students history or social studies until we can provide students with the entire truth. Students deserve to know the whole truth, the real truth of our history, not just half of it. Just like the sign I made in support of this work (pictured with this blog!), American history should not be sugarcoated.

I hope you’ll join me and lend your voice to the Learn from History coalition. Your voice, joined with others across Illinois and the country, are the strongest ambassadors we have to ensure that schools can continue teaching fact-based history to students.

Whether you’re a school system leader, a parent, an educator, or a school board member, Learn from History has a toolkit that’s right for you. These resources will help in your local community.

Students like me are joining with parents, teachers, community leaders, and concerned Illinoisans to help ensure young people can learn from history. They deserve an honest history education.

If they don’t, history will keep repeating itself.

I hope you’ll join us.

I wanted to drop a quick line and update you on our work related to the new Learn from History coalition. That coalition, and the vital work it sets out to do, was highlighted in a recent news article by the Illinois Times for some Illinois connections and national reach.

Mimi Rodman, Stand for Children Illinois’ Executive Director, noted that our state has made strides recently when it comes to how schools address race, but noted that more work must be done to ensure students learn a complete and accurate history. “Vigilance is very much called for here,” she said, pointing to the ongoing work.

Learn from History, a coalition of which Stand is a member, was formed to take a stand against efforts to ban teaching about racism and other forms of oppression in public K-12 schools. For students to create a better society, schools need a provide a thorough, accurate, and fact-based history education and teach students to reject racism and respect the equal value of every person.

This group effort includes members like the AASA, the school superintendents’ association; the American Federation of Teachers; Educators for Excellence; the National School Boards Association; Teach Plus, and many more partner organizations.

You can learn more about Learn from History and join this vital work at There, you’ll find toolkits to help ensure that schools can continue teaching fact-based history. You can also add your name in support and stay updated on the latest coalition news.