Tillis: Defund schools that teach ‘1619 project’

National News
Thom Tillis

(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

WASHINGTON (WNCN/AP) – Sen. Thom Tillis helped reintroduce legislation that would withhold federal funds from school that teach the 1619 Project.

Tillis, along with a series of other Republican Senators and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, reintroduced the “Saving American History Act of 2021” which prohibits federal funds from being available to teach the 1619 Project curriculum in elementary and secondary schools.

“I have significant concerns with the Department of Education’s recent effort to reorient the bipartisan American History and Civics Education programs away from their intended purposes towards a politicized and divisive agenda,” said Tillis. “Americans do not want their tax dollars going towards promoting radical ideologies meant to divide us instead of being used to promote the principles that unite our nation.”

The bill itself says:

An activist movement is now gaining momentum to deny or obfuscate this history by claiming that America was not founded on the ideals of the Declaration but rather on slavery and oppression.

This distortion of American history is being taught to children in public school classrooms via the New York Times’ ‘‘1619 Project’’, which claims that ‘‘nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional’’ grew ‘‘out of slavery’’

The 1619 Project is an initiative of The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. The magazine describes the project as one which is designed to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans “at the very center of our national narrative.”

“I do not support diverting taxpayer resources towards promoting ideological and misleading depictions of our nation’s history, and I am proud to work on this important legislation with my colleagues to address this issue,” Tillis said.

Tillis’ bill calls the 1619 Project “racially divisive” and a “revisionist account of history.”

The project was converted into a popular podcast. Materials were developed for schools to use and The Pulitzer Center partnered with the Times to develop 1619 Project lesson plans. However, objections to The 1619 Project have morphed into legislative efforts to prevent its presentation in public schools.

In February, an Arkansas House panel rejected legislation that would have banned schools from teaching the project. The measure failed on a voice vote on the same day the state Senate rejected a resolution that cited the country’s “ongoing positive record on race and slavery” and attacked Democrats’ history on civil rights issues.

Former President Donald Trump created a commission in response to The 1619 Project that promoted “patriotic” education and played down America’s role in slavery. After taking office, President Joe Biden revoked a report from the so-called 1776 Commission. Widely mocked by historians, the commission glorified the country’s white founders and played down the role of slavery.

Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), John Boozman (R-AR), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), and Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) helped Tillis reintroduce the bill.

Reps. Ken Buck (R-CO) and Rick Allen (R-GA) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

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