The flap over the U.S. Department of Education consigning 300,000 copies of "Helping Your Child to Learn History" to the trash bin is evidence anew that the federal government should have no role in education. Illiteracy and low scores in public schools are a national scandal, but it's hard to see how federal spending improves anything.
During the presidential campaign, President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., vied over how much federal money they would spend. Kerry claimed that the Bush administration failed to provide necessary funding for the No Child Left Behind Act, and Bush representatives bragged that the president "increased education funding more in four years than Bill Clinton did in eight years."
So what do we get for all this taxpayers' money? A case in point is the teaching of history.
"Helping Your Child Learn History" was a 73-page booklet published by the Department of Education to give advice to parents of preschool through fifth-grade children. The booklet gratuitously included several favorable references to the infamous "National Standards for United States History," even obliquely suggesting that President Bush supports those standards.
When Lynne Cheney, the wife of the Vice President Dick Cheney, spotted those references, her staff communicated displeasure to the Education Department, which then destroyed its inventory of 300,000 copies, or in bureaucratese, "recycled" them.
The University of California Los Angeles professor who had been in charge of the National Standards project found this decision "extremely troubling." He called it "a pretty god-awful example of interference - intellectual interference. If that's not Big Brother or Big Sister, I don't know what is."
Note the inverted mindset of the typical academic. He thinks it is OK for Big Brother federal government to order students to study a revisionist, distorted, and inaccurate version of U.S. history, but it is offensive for parents and citizens to demand that inaccuracies be omitted.
I suppose liberals will soon be whining about "book burning," but as the media say, let's have a reality check. "The National Standards for History" was financed 10 years ago by a $2 million grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to UCLA to write standards for how U.S. history should be taught in grades 5 through 12.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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