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Florida schools should teach history, not glossy fiction | Letters
Here’s what readers are saying in Friday’s letters to the editor.
Tronco, or multiple foot stocks used to to constrain enslaved people, are seen at the Slavery exhibition Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Tronco, or multiple foot stocks used to to constrain enslaved people, are seen at the Slavery exhibition Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands. [ PETER DEJONG | AP ]
Published May 21

First, learn the truth

What should Florida kids learn about U.S. history? A rule is in the works | May 19

Two items from today’s paper, on different subjects, got my attention. One is the proposed abolition of teaching “critical race theory” in Florida public schools. The other is the continuing violence in Israel. Why is it impossible for people to recognize that this is not a binary world? You can teach the ideals of equality and liberty for all that the U.S. espouses, while at the same time pointing out that we have not always lived up to these ideals. (I was a history teacher, and I never learned about the 1921 massacre in Tulsa.)

The modern state of Israel was created to ensure equality and justice not just for Jews, but Arabs in the country, too. As columnist Trudy Rubin pointed out, peaceful coexistence and mutual respect have been ongoing among many residents. The extremists on both sides, including the current regime, have threatened this, for no valid reason.

People should learn the truth, so they can understand one another and work towards the ideals that their nations espouse.

Susan Sumnick, Riverview

Teach history, not fiction

What should Florida kids learn about U.S. history? A rule is in the works | May 19

Teaching the history of America to young students is not an easy thing to do, of course. One of the most eye opening things I learned when entering college is how much of what I was taught was just wrong. I was taught that after slavery was abolished people just went about life and there was no more racism. I was taught that Native Americans happily gave up their land to the Pilgrims. I was never taught about Japanese internment camps. These are all dark parts of American history, and they need to be taught sensitively. Where would the world be if we didn’t teach people about the atrocities of the World Wars? Or about the tragedy that was 9/11?

Students need to be set up in the education system to think critically and recognize that this nation isn’t perfect, no nation is. But a generation of students raised to believe America can do no wrong will not be equipped with the critical thinking skills to address the issue when the nation does something wrong. America is a very young, very imperfect nation, and that is not something to be ashamed of. It should be an inspiration for students to work together and improve situations. There is a way to teach students about the history of this country and simultaneously inspire them to fix it. But leaving history behind is not the way to do that.

Jolie Pont, St. Petersburg

Will our senators step up?

Two Florida Republicans break ranks, vote for commission on Jan. 6 attack | May 19

Republican lawmakers’ opposition to the formation of an independent commission, charged with looking into the events of the January 6 assault on the Capitol, is a manifestation of the party’s march to marginalize the U.S. Constitution. Members in the upper and lower chambers of Congress who vote to deny the creation of the independent body out of political expediency do so at their peril. The political calculus — an investigation may diminish the chances for Republicans to regain control of both institutions of Congress in the 2022 midterm election — is bound to backfire. A majority of the electorate will view the lack of support for the bipartisan commission as a de facto green light to extremists to develop and implement future assaults on our democracy. In Florida, all eyes will be on Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott when the Senate votes on the measure next week. Will they vote against the 9/11 style commission and turn a blind eye to the revisionist history campaign currently underway by many of their colleagues, or uphold their oath to “support and defend” the Constitution?

Jim Paladino, Tampa

Waning faith in Scott and Rubio

Two Florida Republicans break ranks, vote for commission on Jan. 6 attack | May 19

If Florida’s two senators, Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, have any agenda other than protecting Donald Trump I would be amazed. Their total lack of courage and decency will most likely prevail. They have shown their true colors over and over again. I really have no hope that they will do the right thing and vote for a commission to investigate the insurrection that took place in January. They seem to have only loyalty to the former president, and, by proxy, perpetuating his lies. I can only hope that the voters factor this at election time.

James Harazin, St. Petersburg

No excuse for bad behavior

Women recount claims of sexual harassment by Pasco veterans charity leader | May 12

Brian Anderson, “a highly decorated Green Beret,” seems to have forgotten a basic tenet drilled into all military personnel: Take responsibility for your actions. I remember clearly from my Army service that there were only three replies to any question from an officer: “Yes, sir,” “No, sir” and “No excuse, sir.”

Pete Wilford, Holiday