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Ramesh Ponnuru

Regulate Teaching of U.S. Race History, But Keep It Real

States are right to push back against left-wing classroom theories, but they’re botching the specifics.

Who owns history?

Who owns history?

Photographer: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

In state after state, legislatures are trying to regulate the teaching of history and social studies, but they keep running into trouble with language arts. That’s the recurring lesson of the arguments over bills aimed at keeping public schools from indoctrinating kids in left-wing views about race. The intent of these proposals is often laudable. The wording often isn’t.

If you listen to enough of the critics of these bills, or read some of the supposedly objective news coverage, you’ll assume they have bad intent too. In May, the New York Times reported on its front page that Idaho had passed a law denying funding to public schools unless they play down the legacy of slavery and racism. That’s not true. Idaho’s law, one of the most narrowly drafted of the bunch, says nothing about slavery.