AFS joins over 80 other organizations in a joint statement against legislative efforts to restrict education about racism in American classrooms. The statement was authored by the American Association of University Professors, the American Historical Association, the Association of American Colleges & Universities, and PEN America in response to legislation introduced in at least 20 states that would restrict the discussion of “divisive concepts” in public education institutions.
Suppressing or watering down discussion of “divisive concepts” in educational institutions deprives students of opportunities to discuss and foster solutions to social division and injustice. Legislation cannot erase “concepts” or history; it can, however, diminish educators’ ability to help students address facts in an honest and open environment capable of nourishing intellectual exploration. Educators owe students a clear-eyed, nuanced, and frank delivery of history, so that they can learn, grow, and confront the issues of the day, not hew to some state-ordered ideology.
“The clear goal of these efforts is to suppress teaching and learning about the role of racism in the history of the United States,” the letter explains. Education proceeds from exploration, facts, and civil debate. “These legislative efforts,” on the other hand, “seek to substitute political mandates for the considered judgment of professional educators, hindering students’ ability to learn and engage in critical thinking across differences and disagreements. . . . Americans of all ages deserve nothing less than a free and open exchange about history and the forces that shape our world today.”
To read the full statement and access a PDF copy, visit the American Historical Association website.
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