TRIBAL DECLINE: What should kids be taught in school?


Our tribe gets out over its skis:
What should American public school kids learn about American history?

There is no perfect answer. When we were kids, the K-6 American history curriculum began and ended with this:
"In fourteen hundred and ninety-two,
Columbus sailed the ocean blue."
We had to memorize that. And let's face it—we turned out fine!

In theory, it would be better if kids were given access to a wider view of the world. That said, the progressive wing of our liberal tribe may have a slight instinct for overreach, a matter which seems to have come to a head—where else?—in California.

Needless to say, we humans tend to show an instinct for overreach within all our tribes. It's certainly nothing unique to us liberals if we show this slight tendency too.

That said, our brothers and sisters in California have been fashioning a public school ethnic studies curriculum. The assistant, associate and adjunct professors have been deeply involved in the effort, and let's be completely frank at this time:

When the New York Times starts its front-page report on our project this way, our brothers and sisters in sunny Cal may have managed to get themselves out over their skies just a bit:
GOLDSTEIN (8/16/19): Discuss a recent instance of police brutality in your community. Read op-eds arguing for and against legal status for unauthorized immigrants. Compare and contrast border conditions in the Palestinian territories and Mexico.

Those are some of the lesson plans suggested in a draft of California’s newly proposed ethnic studies curriculum for K-12 public schools. The documents have led to bitter debate in recent weeks over whether they veer into left-wing propaganda, and whether they are inclusive enough of Jews and other ethnic groups. Now, amid a growing outcry, even progressive policymakers in the state are promising significant revisions.

The materials are unapologetically activist—and jargony. They ask students to “critique empire and its relationship to white supremacy, racism, patriarchy, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism and other forms of power and oppression.” A goal, the draft states, is to “connect ourselves to past and contemporary resistance movements that struggle for social justice.”
Depending on the grade level in question, there's nothing obviously wrong with those basic assignments in paragraph 1. But by paragraph 3, Dana Goldstein was saying that the proposed curriculum was "unapologetically activist"—and even that it was "jargony."

When the heavily woke New York Times is saying such things in paragraph 3, Rancho Cucamonga, we may have a problem! Some of the curriculum's "jargony" instincts were on display in that third paragraph, and Goldstein soon came back for more:
GOLDSTEIN: It did not help that some of the terms used throughout the more than 300 pages of documents—“hxrstory, “cisheteropatriarchy,” “accompliceship”—were inscrutable to many in Sacramento and beyond.


According to a glossary included with the documents, “hxrstory,” pronounced “herstory,” is history written from a gender-inclusive perspective. “Cisheteropatriarchy” is a system of power based on the dominance of straight men who are not transgender. “Accompliceship” is the process of building relationships grounded in trust and accountability with marginalized people and groups.
According to oral tradition, you can't tell the players without a scorecard. Even at the fully woke Times, you won't know how to pronounce “hxrstory" without consulting that glossary!

Does this proposed curriculum make good sense overall? We can't tell you that. In her own eye-rolling critique for the Washington Post, liberal education writer Valerie Strauss reports that the state's new education director has sent the proposed vehicle back to the shop for "major," "substantial" repairs:
STRAUSS (8/19/19): Linda Darling-Hammond, who was appointed president of the state Board of Education by Brown’s successor, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), said in an interview that the draft would undergo major changes. The board has not officially been given the draft from the state’s Instructional Quality Commission, which received it a few months ago, made some changes and posted it on the state Education Department’s website for public comment through Aug. 15.

Darling-Hammond issued a statement with Ilene Straus, vice president of the Board of Education, and board member Feliza I. Ortiz-Licon, saying, “A model curriculum should be accurate, free of bias, appropriate for all learners in our diverse state, and align with Governor Newsom’s vision of a California for all. The current draft model curriculum falls short and needs to be substantially redesigned.”
Strauss notes the problem with jargon too. Before we move on a larger complaint, let's note an irony in the proposed curriculum's use of so many new words.

In her report for the Times, Goldstein quotes a co-chair of the ethnic studies commission defending the proposed curriculum. We were struck by one phrase he repeatedly used:
GOLDSTEIN: Drafters of the proposed curriculum and their supporters say it is important for students to view the world in a way not promoted by the powerful.

The Cal Matters website quoted R. Tolteka Cuauhtin, a member of the advisory committee that worked on the draft, as saying, “Sometimes people want to approach ethnic studies as just a superficial diversity class and that’s it. Ethnic studies is an academic field of over 50 years that has its own frameworks, its own academic language, its own understandings of how it approaches subjects and our world.”
As an academic field, does ethnic studies have "its own academic language?" For better or worse, we'll assume that it very much does. All in all, Cuauhtin seems to think that the new curriculum should proceed in a whole set of ways which are very much "its own."

We'll assume that may be a problem. As is true with people all over the world, our more progressive sisters and brothers have long displayed a powerful tendency to keep changing the language in ways which are ever more stunningly woke.

This tends to create and promote a type of tribal bond among those who speak the new language. For better or worse, it tends to make everyone else feel that a revolution is happening of which they may not be a part.

Having said that, alas! According to Darling-Hammond, this curriculum is meant to "align with Governor Newsom’s vision of a California for all" (our emphasis). It's meant to be "appropriate [and presumably welcoming] for all learners in our diverse state" (our emphasis).

All that jargony folderol may fly in the face of those ideals. And according to both Goldstein and Strauss, the proposed curriculum is being widely challenged for its alleged lack of inclusion in ways which are even more basic.

Alas! We liberals today are strongly inclined to slice and dice the population into identity groups. At our least sensitive, we believe your "identity" is your race and your gender, full stop, and that we are the ones empowered to tell you what your "identity" is.

A certain Maoist feeling may seem to intrude at such junctures. And in the current case in Cali, our tribe may be learning a tragic fact—once you start slicing and dicing the world, it's hard to know how to stop:
GOLDSTEIN: The California course materials focus on people of color, such as African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian-Americans, Arab-Americans, Central American immigrants and Pacific Islanders. Much of the material is uncontroversial...

But after California released the draft of the materials for public comment in June, some Jewish legislators and organizations complained that anti-Semitism was not an area of emphasis, while the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel came up repeatedly. Armenian, Greek, Hindu and Korean organizations later joined the Jewish groups in calling for revisions.

Shereen Bhalla
, director of education for the Hindu American Foundation, said the curriculum should include information on the contributions Indian-Americans have made to the United States, and on the discrimination they have faced through immigration restrictions and hate crimes.
Uh-oh! We need to add units dealing with mistreatment of Armenians, Greeks, Hindus, Koreans and Indian-Americans. Cali's kids may be sitting in school all summer long trying to finish their work!

What should American public school kids be taught about all these matters? That question isn't easy to answer, as this current episode shows.

Arguably, the episode also teaches the occasional tendency of our vastly self-assured tribe to lapse into forms of self-parody. At one point, Goldstein quotes a Republican legislator making that claim with respect to this curriculum, and that claim will strike many as accurate. Here again, Tucker Carlson is being provided with segments in which he won't clearly be wrong.

In our view, it's important to help kids learn about the real ways our history works. That said, it's also important to remember that California's kids are just kids; that their parents are actual people who may not agree with our deeply woke views; and that all residents of the state count, not just those who have achieved a state of accompliceship with our deeply woke version of hxrstory. Those on the verge of abandoning Trump may decide to hang on after all.

Might we close with two thoughts which popped into our heads as we read Goldstein's report? We'll start with the first of these thoughts:

Might a California curriculum include the historical experience of the so-called Okies? One of California's greatest writers wrote a very great book about the way they were treated in California during the Dust Bowl years.

It was made into a beautiful film in 1940. Mightn't the (fictional) experiences of Ma Joad's boy add to the ability of Cali kids to empathize with the mistreated? In some cases, to empathize with someone who (allegedly and supposedy) doesn't "look like them?"

Here's our second suggestion. Might someone tell California kids than this isn't just an American thing?

When our brothers and sisters get out over their skis, they tend to say or suggest that persecution was invented by the Amerikan people. But this isn't an exclusively Amerikkan phenomenon. It's part of our deeply flawed human inheritance. It exists, and has always existed, all around the world.

In that very famous California-based book. Tom Joad speaks it like this:
"Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there... I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’—I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry n’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build—why, I’ll be there."
Presumably, Cesar Chavez will be there too, and so will Dr. King. Mandela will also be present, saying that he and his imprisoned comrades "identified with" a frail Euro girl, Anne Frank.

Kids need to be told that things of the type under review haven't just happened here in Amerikkka. They happened where Hitler went after the Jews; where the Khmer Rouge cleansed the countryside; where Mao sent folk off for re-education; where the Hutus decided to take out the Tutsis—or was it the other way around?—and the world largely stood by and watched.

Lincoln said we all did this; children deserve the chance to think about that statement too. Over here, in our floundering tribe, our jargon, and our sense of certainty, may sometimes suggest that we are almost capable of loathing The Others too.

Children should get the chance to think widely. Also, in a system like ours, the views of their parents must count!

Tomorrow: What's in a couple of words?


  1. Somerby makes a white supremacist plea today. Ignore those Armenians who inhabit large areas of the San Fernando Valley and are the majority in Irvine (where Kevin Drum lives) and instead teach about the Okies and Arkies who inhabited the valley and picked oranges during the depression. Because old farts like him lived through the depression and are upset about all the new brown faces that are now living in those old neighborhoods.

    Today's column is ugly. Somerby derides California in its efforts to be inclusive by referring to it repeatedly as "woke," a derogatory term used by the right to mock the left. And he calls California "Cali," a term almost never used by those who live here, but popularized by TV and Easterners, who again consider California to be the exemplar of progressivism run amok. Never mind that California is spectacularly successful as an economy and as a model for how immigration benefits society and how diverse people can work shoulder to shoulder to achieve common goals. Lets call it "Cali" and pretend that people there are still white, like the Joads, even though those folks have largely moved back to their original farms because California now votes blue instead of red.

    1. Name calling is not argument. Can you point to a specific example of something you consider to be misinterpreted and explain why?

    2. How in the world could you claim that he wants to ignore anyone?

      He wants to include everyone.

    3. He wants to include everyone by eliminating ethnic studies?

    4. No, just by eliminating the word "cisheteropatriarchy" as if trans people didn't exist or weren't important.

    5. Name calling is not argument.

      True enough, but it’s understandable when confronting a comment in which every sentence is either wrong or irrelevant. But what the hell; I’m up to the challenge.

      Somerby makes a white supremacist plea today.

      Nowhere in the blog entry does TDH mention white supremacy. let alone endorse it. Nor does he even oppose teaching ethnic studies. In fact, he writes, “In our view, it's important to help kids learn about the real ways our history works.”

      Ignore those Armenians who inhabit large areas of the San Fernando Valley and are the majority in Irvine (where Kevin Drum lives) and instead teach about the Okies and Arkies who inhabited the valley and picked oranges during the depression.

      Presumably because Okies had a larger part in California history than Armenians? But in fact, TDH does not call for ignoring Armenians in the San Fernando Valley or anywhere else. I was under the impression that the naranjeros of the time were largely Mexican, but it’s a minor point.

      Because old farts like him lived through the depression and are upset about all the new brown faces that are now living in those old neighborhoods.

      Given the ages of his college roommates, Somerby was born after World War II. You know that happened after the Depression, right? And you know Somerby lives in Baltimore, right? And you know that’s on the other side of the country from “those old neighborhoods,” right? Just checking.

      Somerby derides California in its efforts to be inclusive by referring to it repeatedly as "woke," a derogatory term used by the right to mock the left.

      Does the right use the term woke to “mock the left”? Possibly. I don’t read right-wing nonsense, so I wouldn’t know. But the term has a perfectly respectable origin in AAVE and was popularized by Black Lives Matter.

      And he calls California "Cali," a term almost never used by those who live here, but popularized by TV and Easterners, who again consider California to be the exemplar of progressivism run amok.

      Native Californians consider Cali a shibboleth: if you use the term, then you’re from out of state. But I think the response of California residents can be summed up in a reddit thread I found. Someone asks “Why shouldn’t I call it Cali?” A Native Californian replies, “There is no reason. We really don’t care.” to which someone from the Central Valley appends “this 100x over.”

      But our Anonymous Ignoramus wants to take offense, so they claim the nickname is popularized by people who don’t like California. Sans evidence, of course.

      Never mind that California is spectacularly successful as an economy and as a model for how immigration benefits society and how diverse people can work shoulder to shoulder to achieve common goals.

      A fact not in dispute in the blog entry.

      Lets call it "Cali" and pretend that people there are still white

      The nickname has nothing to do with California racial demographics.

      like the Joads, even though those folks have largely moved back to their original farms because California now votes blue instead of red.

      There are very few original Joads left, and no “original farms” to move back to. The Okies left dust-bowl Oklahoma for California in the1930s, having lost their farms in bankruptcy. They left the migrant labor pool to take jobs in the California oil and defense industries as those sectors boomed when war came. Their descendants entered the middle class and stayed put.

    6. (continued from above)

      Here’s the central thesis of the blog entry:

      Alas! We liberals today are strongly inclined to slice and dice the population into identity groups. At our least sensitive, we believe your "identity" is your race and your gender, full stop, and that we are the ones empowered to tell you what your "identity" is.

      I make no brief for this point of view. I’m sure there are rational counterarguments. But the original commenters won’t or can’t make them, instead spewing ignorant nonsense that has nothing to do with what TDH actually wrote.

    7. @deadrat
      If that is the “central thesis” of today’s entry, how or why does a proposed ethnic studies class in California illustrate that thesis?

    8. @6:40P, Did you not bother to read the blog entry, or did you read it and not understand it?

      According to the NYT, the proposed course materials ask students to “critique empire and its relationship to white supremacy, racism, patriarchy, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism and other forms of power and oppression.” So slice by race, sex, sexual orientation, gender, class, and disability. The materials dice by focusing on “African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian-Americans, Arab-Americans, Central American immigrants and Pacific Islanders,” which has led to criticism from other groups not mentioned, including Jews, Armenians, Greeks, Hindus, and Koreans.

      So there’s no doubt that the proposed course slices and dices “the population into identity groups.” It’s TDH’s contention that individuals will be told by the state that their individual identity is whatever the chopping process dictates. That’s as may be. And it also may be that rational counterarguments exist. You won’t find a coherent discussion from the original commenter.

    9. The proposed curriculum isn’t “telling you what your identity is.” It is an attempt to study the history and perspectives of nonwhites.

      And a critique of empire, racism, capitalism, etc is simply that: a critique of these things. Whether that involves slicing humanity into groups is a recognition that those things actually do slice humanity into groups. It is a recognition of the way power works.

    10. The proposed curriculum isn’t “telling you what your identity is.” ... And a critique of empire, racism, capitalism, etc is simply that: a critique of these things.

      So you say. And I'm going to be polite and declare that I'm sure you've got good evidence and sound logic to back up your claims. And when you present your argument, you'll have made a rebuttal to TDH's blog entry.

      Unlike the original commenter.

    11. What data needs to be provided to note that an ethnic studies course isn’t telling anyone what their identity is? That is consummate bullshit. “Let’s study the black experience in America.” “Why are you telling me what my identity is?” It is unfathomably foolish to complain the way Somerby is complaining. As a matter of fact, he *is* making the same complaint that right-wingers make.

    12. deadrat you offer no evidence either, your discomfort for context is notable and falls in line with Somerby's propaganda. His take is basically the same as Gingrich's response to the 1619 project "I think certainly if you’re an African-American, slavery is at the center of what you see as the American experience. But for most Americans, most of the time, there were a lot of other things going on." If you do not understand what Gingrich is doing there and how Somerby is doing the same thing, then you are ignorant, willfully or otherwise.

    13. You think I offer no evidence? I went through the original comment practically line by line, pointing out its foolishness and inaccuracy. Was I wrong in anything I wrote? You don’t say.

      You think I’m uncomfortable with context? You can’t have read many of my comments. Please go back and read the deathless prose I’ve contributed to this commentariat over the years. Not only will you be in for a treat as you read my witty and cogent prose, you’ll find that I think context is everything.

      I’m gonna take a guess: you think I’m defending TDH’s blog entry. I’m not. TDH views things through his prism of tribal identity, and that colors his views. I think the response of the various ethnic communities to the proposed course leads some credence to TDH’s fears, and I’m as suspicious of jargon as he is. Not to mention educationists in general.

      But that doesn’t mean that an ethnic studies course is a bad idea, and it doesn’t mean that there aren’t cogent counter-arguments to TDH’s fears. Indeed, some of the critical commentary has been on point. But that doesn’t include the original comment, which is absurdly ignorant (or perhaps ignorantly absurd).

      I understand what Gingrich is doing, and if you think TDH is doing the same, then you’re not paying attention. Just the way you weren’t paying attention to the actual target of my comment. But both TDH and Gingrich are doing one thing in concert: they’re both giving fair warning that the right will demonize progressives on identitarian grounds. It might be better not to play into their hands.

      And don’t rush to tell me that the right are the real identitarians (of the white persuasion). I already know. Every right-wing accusation is an admission.

    14. Deadrat: "I", "I", "I", "I".

      You're boring and trite.

    15. I'll explain it for you, Sparky. I'm responding to someone (@6:06A) who's thoughtfully criticized what I wrote by essentially saying "you", "you", "you", "you". So I defended what "I" wrote.

      You weren't involved in the conversation, but you took the time to read it anyway. You found it boring and trite. And took even more time to respond! Who does that?

      Here's a thought: if you find me boring, don't read my comments. I always post under my google nym, so my comments are easy to spot. Give it a try.

    16. The same goes for my comments limp dick.

      I didn't read them, you're always boring and trite. You have never posted one remotely interesting thing or idea and many back-assward, retarded ones. Post all you want. You'll always be boring. You'll always be trite. You're not insightful or interesting. You're boring.

      And you're the one who cannot stop responding to my comments fag.

    17. My own personal troll! Welcome back. I knew you couldn't stay away.

    18. "Me,me,me,me" "I, I, I, I"

      Ever the hero of his own story, a trademark of deadrat's uncultured impudence and lower middle class ignorance.

  2. Anyone who has ever worked in education knows that it is excessively jargony. The materials posted for public comment (which they received as intended) are not written for children to read, but for education professionals and members of the public. The terms may be unfamiliar to those outside academic fields, but that doesn't make them wrong to use. Academics invent words when they have meanings to capture that are not expressed well using existing vocabulary. Biology, physics, mathematics, all fields invent new words. It is more confusing when academic fields take existing words and redefine them in technical ways, as psychologists did, to the confusion of students and practitioners when the public misused such terms. Somerby no doubt prefers that we ignore the new understandings and go back to the old vocabulary because it allows him (and others) to ignore the new meanings as well. Are transgender men really part of the patriarchy? Somerby would prefer to ignore the question and ignore the existence of transgender men too, no doubt. But the whole point of a diversity curriculum is to stop ignoring groups that comprise a multicultural society and pretend we are all the Joads or that describing the Joads captures everything important about everyone else.

    Somerby doesn't seem to be able to wrap his head around the fact that Los Angeles is a big city, very big, and it includes large numbers of Hindu and Korean people. It is entirely possible for children to learn about the histories of diverse people who make up our state.

    Somerby's idiotic belief that children only learned about Columbus in grades 1-6 was never true in California. The 3rd grade curriculum is about the history of the Spanish explorers and the founding of the system of missions up and down the coast by Catholic priests coming from Spain. It discusses the relationship between the missionaries and the Indians who inhabited those areas before colonization. It tells kids why nearly every city and street name in the entire state is either Spanish or Indian in its origin, from Malibu to Monterey with stops for Lompoc and Simi and even San Francisco. California kids have always absorbed diversity in grade school history classes, but our history has changed, so the curriculum needs to be updated. Even if old guys like Somerby (who arrived in Palo Alto in high school and was too late to benefit from a broadened perspective on immigrants) are too inflexible to learn new words and respect for new people.

    1. Somerby grew up in Northern California, and this isn't a history unit. It's "ethnic studies."

      In my opinion this curriculum comes off a bit too angry/activist in tone, and with an us-vs-them emphasis on victimization, i.e., the anglos are always the bad guys.

    2. That sounds like a guilty conscience to me.

      Somerby grew up in Boston. He moved to Palo Alto for his last year or two of high school. Then he went to Harvard and then to Baltimore where he taught for a while as part of Teach for America and developed his stand up career in comedy.

      Are you aware that the term "anglo" has its own us-vs-them connotation, like calling Mexican Americans vatos or beaners? Are you sure you don't just think in those terms yourself?

      I don't understand how minority groups can be considered threatening when they have been excluded minorities forever and are just asking to have their own stories told. If you don't like how you appear to others, consider how they feel about being portrayed in the ways the dominant culture has portrayed them, without their say.

      If you let other people write their own history, they aren't going to make their oppressors the heroes. If you cannot take that, you can't handle any approach to the truth and you are stuck with living within a fantasy, much as Trump does about his own life.

      It is better to accept that all groups have both good and bad moments. The purpose of ethnic studies, like all fields, is not to glorify or vilify anyone but to figure out what happened in the past and to understand how that has affected us all. No history can be complete without ethnic studies and women's studies.

    3. We older folks have largely forgotten whatever it is we learned in grade school.

      I had a funny experience. Talking about Charlemagne, none of the adults had any idea who he was. However, my cousin's 5th grade daughter was in the know. Her older sister - not so much.

      In a few years, however, she will likely have forgotten too.

      I tried to ask one of my nieces where, specifically, she had learned the nonsense theory known as "white privilege". Clearly, we were not taught that crap when I went to school.

      I still wonder exactly where younger people are "taught" that. It appears that a W has been added to the 3 R's. Reading, ritimg, rithmatic, and wokeness.

      The W seems to stay with a student much longer than the name of Charlemagne or the quadratic formula.

    4. Nonsense theory. Let me guess: you white.

    5. Quite the victimization schtick, Dr. T.
      I apologize for overlooking you calling liberals "snowflakes".

  3. This is an ongoing process. The committee made recommendations about what to include in the ethnic studies curriculum, there is pushback, the largely Democratic officials are urging that more work needs to be done.

    When Somerby says this: “Might a California curriculum include the historical experience of the so-called Okies?”, note that he does two disingenuous things. One: he says “a California curriculum”, as if the history of the Okies isn’t being taught in California schools; it is, *just not in an ethnic studies class.* Why not, you ask? That is the second disingenuous thing Somerby does: he misrepresents what “ethnic studies” actually means. It is there in the article:

    “Ethnic studies was born of protests and activism at San Francisco State University and the University of California, Berkeley, in the late 1960s. Students of color demanded that universities update their course offerings to include the histories and perspectives of nonwhite groups.”

    Note that the purpose is to study “the histories and perspectives of *nonwhite* groups.”

    Why might this be important specifically in California? Again, quoting from the article: “More than three-quarters of California students are nonwhite.”

    There is one further important point that is buried in the article and which is likely to be ignored by propagandists like Somerby:

    “The 2016 law that led to the California course materials, which will be optional for schools to use”

    , with emphasis on the word “optional.”

    1. Ethnic studies only means non-anglo I guess.

      Have you ever been to Palo Alto? Know what the Peninsula was like in the 60s? Know that that was the old name for Silicon Valley?

      It was largely agricultural ... and Hispanic!

    2. Not in the 1960s. Maybe before. Palo Alto is where Stanford University is. Those homes surrounding the university were built in the 50s. Jobs started Apple in a garage, not a field. Your comment is true of the central valley though.

  4. What would be the benefit of teaching kids that genocides have happened all over the world? Does that excuse genocide? Does it normalize it? Does it give our kids permission to engage in hating others because minorities have been hated and even killed in other parts of the world? Does it make our own actions less bad?

    White supremacy is a global movement. Maybe Somerby wants our kids to know that if they decide to hate, they will not be alone. They will be part of a glorious tradition dating back to Hitler's Germany and endemic to all peoples, even those in Cambodia and Japan, so separatism is OK and the hate that binds distinct people into separate groups is part of a worldwide tradition of persecuting minorities.

    Otherwise, I can't see what the reason would be for emphasizing these other atrocities arising in places where children were taught to hate not to value diversity.

    Somerby's concern seems to be that white people will be loathed when children are told what white people have done in the past. But I don't see anywhere in that proposed curriculum that says white people shall be assigned blame for anything. This sounds like Somerby is worrying that white people will lose their primacy, their privilege, because other groups will be taught about. That isn't picking on white people (to the point that the Joads, who were widely considered white trash when they actually lived in the LA area should be celebrated because Steinbeck wrote a book about them), but is simply placing them on an equal footing with other people whose contributions are important to our city.

    When Somerby asserts that the views of parents must count, he seems to be unaware that this public comment period occurs precisely to give parents and others a chance to have input into curriculum development. Somerby seems unaware that parents have had input into curriculum in California for many decades now. The voices that are making it sound like there is controversy are those of parents and groups who are providing their important input into curriculum design. If that uproar weren't happening, Somerby would have greater cause to complain about the lack of input for parents. Now, they are doing exactly what he asks for, but he still pours on the snide snarky use of terms like "woke" because California is just so out there. A conservative columnist couldn't have written this any better.

    1. What "white people have done in the past." Love it.

      You mean like go to the Moon?

      The overt hostility of this proposed curriculum is what bothers me. Just the fact that you can't question it without being called a white supremacist is the perfect example of the problem.

    2. How is there any hostility in asking that other people besides white males be included in curricula? We would not need ethnic studies if there had been inclusion in the main academic fields and diverse people (and women) hadn't had to work hard to bring their own histories into the mainstream. You take an ethnic studies class to find out what has been omitted in your previous classes.

      If you want to see the full story about the Moon shot, watch the movie Hidden Figures (or read the book). Wouldn't you say that overt hostility was involved in keeping women and African American contributions to the space program unknown? You might have heard of Krista McAuliffe, but do you know about Ronald McNair?

    3. 1:21
      Sure, you can question the need for or the content of ethnic studies classes. (The debate about that is going on right now in CA. If you live there, you can put in your two cents worth.) Of course, you might examine why you would say “if you specifically study the black experience in America, you are “being hostile” to whites.” Hmmm. You mean the truth, that blacks were subjected to systematic white supremacy from 1619 to at least 1965, is “hostile” to whites? Wow. Very interesting. Would you suppress that truth?

  5. If you were a white teacher faced with a class dominated by Asian students, wouldn't you want your district to provide materials you can use to teach those kids something about their own heritage in California? It would be a way of making the required history unit for that grade relevant to the personal histories of the kids in your class. That is considered good teaching in California, if not Baltimore.

    1. It's not a history unit. They already have that.

      What about teaching U.S. history, while we're on the topic. Too irrelevant?

      Yes I know -- unfortunately it involves white people.

    2. Diverse people are not the only ones being left out of history in the classroom.

      I am currently reading Women's War by Stephanie McCurry. It is a history of women's participation in the Civil War, on both sides. That has been almost entirely neglected by previous histories.

    3. 1:23
      Ethnic studies classes don’t replace regular history classes. They are an additional subject.

  6. Why is it an example of tribal decline that Californians want to include diversity in their history classes?

    1. They already DO !!!

      This is "ethnic studies."

    2. And what is the problem with that?

  7. The true “media critic” would not be engaged in attacking the “progressives” who are “over their skis.” The true media critic would ask why this story appears in the media, and whether it is intended to cast aspersions on progressives, particularly in California, by *portraying* them as loony or over their skis.

    After all, why should the New York Times publish a story about California’s process of developing an ethnic studies course, a process in midstream, where disagreements and revisions are perfectly normal, a process that isn’t even completed yet?

    It could be argued that the story was published to spark outraged columns *precisely like Somerby’s today* about the crazy progressives and their loathsome identity politics.

    Somerby fell for it, hook, line, and sinker.

  8. 'Decline', Bob? When it's about your zombie cult, you're super-heavy on euphemisms.

    Inmates in charge of the asylum, is what it is.

    Save yourself and those you care about, Bob, vote for The Donald.

  9. Hey, everyone should just calm down.

    I have a message.

    For an exceptionally wonderful time, meet at the gas station across the street from the Target store in Rosslyn VA on 8/24 at 1 am.

    Go inside to the counter and ask for The Butt Cracker.

  10. Somerby says he turned out fine despite learning only about Columbus, but is that true? He seems to have some messed up attitudes toward women and minorities beyond African Americans and if he thinks other people don't deserve to be studied, just white Americans, he isn't fine at all.

    1. I don't know whether Somerby turned out fine or not, but I'm pretty sure you can't read for comprehension. You might want to get that checked out in case it isn't an isolated problem but part of a larger cognitive deficit. Good luck.

    2. You had me at “I don’t know.”

    3. @6:42P, get your own shtick.

    4. A patent? No, patents don't apply to phrases. Perhaps you meant trademark, but you can't trademark common words. Did you mean copyright? Alas, no. As you pointed out, it's not original with me.

      I meant shtick. And yeah, get your own. Or not. You seem a little touchy -- dare I say, triggered? -- by someone who has no means to control what you do.

      And overuse? Have you been keeping track of my phrasing? Tell me. When was the last time I used this trope?

      I should be flattered, 'cause you may think you're a critic, bitch, but if you're keeping track of my comments, you're really a fan.

    5. is there anyone here more embarrassing than this fool deadrat? His empty "reading comprehension" attack was already overplayed 20 years ago, and then he gets so triggered by the slightest criticism which he do well to pay attention to.

      and his attempts at humor are so sad, unmasking his desperation for attention. poor guy

    6. is there anyone here more embarrassing than this fool deadrat?

      Yeah, it’s someone who thinks my comments are foolish and worthless, but takes the time and effort to criticize them. Well, criticize me, or what he imagines that I am.

      Let me repeat the mantra: you may think you’re my toughest critic, bitch, but if you’re compelled to follow my every comment, then you’re really my biggest fan here.

    7. Deadrat is such a dumb dick. He doesn't even know what tone is. Hey dickhead, your're boring and you're 1/4 as smart as you think you are. Why don't you repost your trite boilerplate about David in cal that was always stupid?

    8. Oh, look! My own personal troll is back. It's been a while, but you couldn't stay away forever, could you? Welcome home.

      "David in Cal, who was always stupid" There, FIFY.

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