Washington school districts are rejecting the flawed 1619 Project history curriculum

By LIV FINNE  | 
Dec 2, 2020
BLOG

A survey of Washington’s largest school districts finds that none of them plan to adopt the 1619 Project curriculum, a flawed U.S. history lesson plan promoted by The New York Times.  The survey of school administrators included the question, “Does your District intend to adopt the 1619 Project curriculum to teach its students?"  Not a single administrator answered in the affirmative.

The survey included the 15 largest school districts in Washington state, ranging from Seattle Public Schools with 54,000 students, to the Bethel School District with 20,000 students (enrollment data are for the 2018-19 school year).

These districts are tasked with educating nearly 395,000 students, or about 35 percent of the Washington’s 1.1 million schoolchildren. They include the school districts of Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, Kent, Lake Washington, Evergreen (Clark), Puyallup, Northshore, Vancouver, Federal Way, Edmonds, Issaquah, Bellevue, Everett, and Bethel.

Recently, Washington Policy Center published an in-depth review of the 1619 Project curriculum.  The analysis found systematic weaknesses, factual mistakes, sloppy scholarship and distorted historical context.  Here are some of the study’s key findings:

1. Respected historians found the 1619 Project represents poor research methods and contains a number of factual errors.

2. Lincoln scholars found the 1619 Project includes serious gaps in teaching about the Civil War era, and misrepresents President Lincoln’s pivotal role in ending the institution of slavery.

3. The National Association of Scholars found the 1619 Project contains a number of flaws and violates the ethical standards of journalism and published academic research.

4. The 1619 Project presents an inaccurate understanding of the past, denies students access to the rich texture of American history, and teaches students to hate their country.

Given the severe critique by respected national scholars and historians, the decision by Washington state public educators is not surprising.  They appear to be shunning the controversial recommendation of The New York Times to adopt a radically flawed U.S. history course.  Instead, school leaders appear to be staying with established U.S. history courses and state standards, which include a robust review of Washington’s pioneer settlement, development as a Territory and key events since adopting statehood.

Their decision is a sound one.  All students should have a solid, factual grounding in the seminal events in world, national and state history, so they can be informed, open-minded and well-rounded individuals who are fully prepared to participate in the civic life of our communities.