Sure, schools and their teaching materials vary. And, yes, teachers should be given significant freedom in the classroom. I'm not advocating the burning of books or a mass uprising against classroom teachers. But it might be interesting for some of those who were so up in arms over "The Reagans" TV show to commence a thorough examination of the history books and other references used to describe the Reagan era.
Remember, young people believe history books -- not television docudramas -- contain an objective and straightforward account of bygone days. But a review of these materials might betray the same tendency as the entertainment industry to depict the Reagan administration as responsible for a period of unbridled greed and class warfare. That's certainly the (mistaken) perception of many, particularly those who weren't around or weren't paying attention during his years in office.
And one can't help but wonder if Reagan's leadership in the economic recovery, expansion of jobs and strong brinkmanship that led to the end of the Cold War might be overshadowed in contemporary historical discourse by talk of the Iran-Contra affair. To this day, I am convinced that most Americans in a tizzy about Iran-Contra don't even know what happened.
Surely the Reagan tax cuts will be mentioned in any version of history, but how will they be represented? As statements of "fact" about the alleged pitfalls of so-called "trickle down" economics, so often used to discredit Reagan? Would those same texts note that liberal icon John F. Kennedy subscribed to the same school of economic thought?
Don't get me wrong; I was just as outraged as anyone at last week's TV debacle. It portrayed Nancy Reagan as a wicked witch so omnipresent in her control of the White House as to make Hillary Clinton look like a shrinking violet. This was nothing shy of cruel, given her current struggles in caring for her ailing husband.
But TV -- really bad TV -- has become standard fare. Had "The Reagans" aired on CBS, few young people would have even bothered to watch it. But these same young folks have no control over their school reading assignments. Given our cultural climate, one wonders if the time spent protesting "The Reagans" might have been more wisely used to review the potentially bad show that can't be turned off by a TV switch -- the local classroom.
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