If you want to know why there were two national anthems sung before the Super Bowl, don’t expect a good answer from Arizona public school students.

Not after Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne decided to push a curriculum from a conservative advocacy group masquerading as an educational publisher, Prager University Foundation, that has us all focusing on the wrong stuff.

The coursework, which is now available to Arizona’s K-12 public schools, aims to counter “woke culture,” which Horne and others have turned into a boogeyman to leverage votes from those clinging to the belief that their version of history is the only draft worth considering — even if it glosses over or flat ignores the role race has played in boosting some at the expense of others.

“My fear is when you have PragerU teaching content that is quite frankly offensive, some would say racist, it is creating a mindset of a new generation to have those same ideologies that people have fought so hard to move away from,” Reginald Bolding, the former Arizona House minority leader who holds a doctorate in education from Arizona State University, said.

In other words, it’s the kind of stuff you’d teach if you wanted Black, Latino and Native American kids to be the shoulders everybody else gets to stand on as they climb toward middle-class lives.

If schools adopt the optional — and unaccredited — PragerU curriculum, students are going to have a twisted view of race and how it’s affected people, rather than learning to think critically on the issue.

For example, according to education watchdog Media Matters, PragerU provides an animated video in which a cartoon Booker T. Washington says “future generations are never responsible for sins of the past.”

Seriously?

Future generations are always responsible for the past. (Didn’t Martin Luther King say “the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice”?)

Want an easy example that doesn’t involve race? Remember when ballplayers used to be in cigarette ads? It took a new generation to undo that one, right?

Let’s take the focus off PragerU and put it back on critical race theory, a way of teaching how race has affected people in ways good, bad and indifferent through social and legal policy throughout history and into the present day.

That is what this is all about.

The two national anthems, “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the Black national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” belt it out clearly.

The two songs were performed at the Super Bowl as part of a push from the NFL in the aftermath of protests that shook the nation in the summer of 2020 to promote diversity and to acknowledge the role Black people have had in shaping the league.

“Lift Every Voice and Sing” has been known as the Black national anthem for about 100 years.

Conservatives have turned it into flashpoint to say that there shouldn’t be a Black national anthem, calling it “unpatriotic,” “divisive” and much, much worse.

Schools that teach PragerU’s material won’t be able to help students work their way through the controversy.

Critical race theory would make it simple to understand by pointing out how the nation’s history of racial oppression and segregation have left us where we are today, in a deeply divided nation.

Here’s how it could play out in a classroom: Let’s start with the premise that it’s good to be an American.

But what if you could see what it meant to be an American, but you couldn’t access it?

Like every time you got close to being able to pay off some debt or make some home or car repairs, you got pulled over for “driving while Black” and your insurance rates doubled.

That would be frustrating, right?

Or what if when you applied for a school — say, like Tom Horne’s alma mater, Harvard — you realized that about a third of the new first-year students were legacy admissions?

You might wonder how in the world you could be the child or grandchild of a graduate when only a few generations ago, your people were legally blocked from learning to read?

That might get under your skin until you realized that it was the wrong color, don’t you think?

And what about that national anthem that you stood for at the big game?

If you were a fan at the Super Bowl, what with its zillion-dollar tickets, and you happened to be Black, you might have looked around and realized that there weren’t many people who look like you in the stands, unless they were selling hot dogs, even though your race represented about two-thirds of the players on the field.

That might be enough to make you wonder whether the American Dream applies to you, at all — even if you had escaped the traps that had ensnared so many.

And at that point, you might remember that a Black quarterback was essentially kicked out of the league for opposing police brutality, one of the many racial inequalities that exists in our nation, and that the last team he last played for, the San Francisco 49ers, was on the field.

Horne:Schools teach critical race theory by different names

You might then realize that there shouldn’t be two Americas, one for white people and another for everybody else.

But you’d probably resign yourself to the reality that there are two Americas and find yourself clinging to the hope and optimism expressed in “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

What makes it sad is that the critical race theory framework is the perfect tool to remove barriers to success that could help all disenfranchised people, not only minorities. It would give everyone access to the ideas and abilities they could bring to the economy.

“What you’re seeing right now is that there are a group of folks who are so far removed from history that they can’t even fathom the idea that they received a benefit,” Bolding said.

“I think most people would agree,” he said later, “it’s not just that Black (people) or Hispanic (people) aren’t as smart or innovative. There’s a historical context (that keeps them from contributing more broadly.)

“It takes critical thought and critical thinking, and if you tend to not use critical thought or critical thinking, you’re going to find yourself in a place where you’re going to look at division.”

In other words, you’re going to complain about the reality that we have two national anthems without thinking about why or what you could do to fix it.

“That saying, ‘history repeats itself,’ I would agree with that,” Bolding said. “And I think it’s something we all have to be conscious about. … I think it’s dangerous.”

You know what else is dangerous? Tom Horne and anyone else in power bent on keeping us focused on the wrong stuff.

Reach Moore at gmoore@azcentral.com or 602-444-2236. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @SayingMoore.

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Why sing 2 national anthems? Don't ask Tom Horne

34 1
19.02.2024

If you want to know why there were two national anthems sung before the Super Bowl, don’t expect a good answer from Arizona public school students.

Not after Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne decided to push a curriculum from a conservative advocacy group masquerading as an educational publisher, Prager University Foundation, that has us all focusing on the wrong stuff.

The coursework, which is now available to Arizona’s K-12 public schools, aims to counter “woke culture,” which Horne and others have turned into a boogeyman to leverage votes from those clinging to the belief that their version of history is the only draft worth considering — even if it glosses over or flat ignores the role race has played in boosting some at the expense of others.

“My fear is when you have PragerU teaching content that is quite frankly offensive, some would say racist, it is creating a mindset of a new generation to have those same ideologies that people have fought so hard to move away from,” Reginald Bolding, the former Arizona House minority leader who holds a doctorate in education from Arizona State University, said.

In other words, it’s the kind of stuff you’d teach if you wanted Black, Latino and Native American kids to be the shoulders everybody else gets to stand on as they climb toward middle-class lives.

If schools adopt the optional — and unaccredited — PragerU curriculum, students are going to have a twisted view of race and how it’s affected people, rather than learning to think critically on the issue.

For example, according to education watchdog Media Matters, PragerU provides an animated video in which a cartoon Booker T. Washington says “future generations are........

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