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“Offensive” to Indians? California tells 4th graders to stop building mission projects

(AP file)

A new educational framework in California is encouraging teachers to drop a 4th grade tradition — constructing a replica of one of the state’s historic missions — in favor of a more “nuanced perspective of history.”

Nancy McTygue, executive director of California History-Social Science Project (CHSSP) and one of the lead writers of the new framework, is one of the fiercest opponents of mission projects, arguing that students aren’t learning much from the project.

“I don’t think the mission project has taught students about a very difficult time in our nation’s history,” she says, adding that the project is “offensive to many.”

According to a CHSSP blog entitled “Repeat after us, say no to the mission project,” some American Indians have “likened the mission projects to projects that require students to recreate plantations in the American South or concentration camps in Germany.”

Paloma Flores, San Francisco Unified School District’s program coordinator for the Indian Education Program, believes that the mission project “erases the [American Indian] people from the current day,” and “continues to perpetuate a romanticized stereotype that [they] are a people only from the past.”

The latest History-Social Science Framework, a 1000-page document which lays out K-12 curriculum for California’s public schools, was first presented in 2016, and is just starting to make its way into schools around the state. A $5 million grant from the state of California to create an online database of teaching resources for K-12 history-social science curriculum, is expected to accelerate the process.The database is set to launch by 2019.

Scrapping the mission project is just one small tweak in the proposed curriculum, however.

SFGATE reports that “lessons around the missions and other notable periods and events” in history are being “revised and replaced with new ones on everything from the role of LGBTQ figures in shaping the state to how trade routes between Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Europe impacted nations and their people.” Many of these changes came from legislative mandate to add new content or expand existing content to the curriculum.

While many parents are likely rejoicing that they won’t have to suffer through this often tedious project, the trade-off is that their children will be learning a more revisionist, “inclusive” and culturally-sensitive version of history. The end of mission projects is a major victory for multiculturalism and its proponents.


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