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More trickery by Charlotte Crabtree and Gary B. Nash

Editor's Introduction -- Soon after a far-left organization in Los Angeles produced two eccentric political screeds and falsely represented them as compilations of federal standards for education in history, the screeds were exposed as fakes, were panned by various individual critics, and were denounced by the United States Senate. The Los Angeles outfit's leaders -- Charlotte Crabtree and Gary B. Nash -- continued to promote their phony "standards" and continued to deal in misrepresentation and deceit.

This article was published in the "Editor's File" in
The Textbook Letter, January-February 1995.

Senate Denounces "History Standards";
Federal-Standards Effort Appears Dead

William J. Bennetta

The United States Senate has sharply denounced the phony "national standards" for history education, and it now seems likely that the entire federal program for fostering and certifying national education standards will be scrapped. The fabricators of the history "standards," however, are still promoting their wares, and they have tried to foment a letter-writing campaign aimed at influencing federal legislators. In so doing, they have again shown their willingness to disseminate distortions and misleading claims.

The story of the "standards" began last October, when the National Center for History in the Schools, based at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), published two documents called National Standards for United States History and National Standards for World History. The documents were actually model curricula (rather than sets of standards), and they both were bogus. They had been dressed up to look as if they were federal standards that had been certified under Public Law 103-227, the "Goals 2000: Educate America Act," but their appearance was deceptive. They had not been certified, and they did not carry any federal approval at all. They were just two eccentric publications in which the UCLA organization -- under the direction of Charlotte Crabtree and Gary B. Nash -- had tried to rewrite history in terms of multi-culti ideology.

Both documents displayed gross ideological distortions, and both were colored by faddish delusions and sociopolitical pretensions that multi-culti types favor. The United States History document, in particular, dealt in tribalism, Victimism, anti-intellectualism and fake anthropology, and it was animated by a stark animosity toward Europeans (or "whites") and toward the United States itself. The writers evidently had done their best to emphasize American follies and failures, to minimize American successes, and to bury anything that did not conform to multi-culti doctrines and tastes. (When I reviewed the United States History document in these pages, I pointed out that the UCLA crew had eradicated science and medicine from American history, had ignored or trivialized the effects of science and technology on American life, and had hidden our country's identity as the foremost scientific and technological power of the 20th century. Those antics, I suggested, were reflections of the multi-culti mob's general aversion to intellectuality and their specific hostility toward natural science, an intellectual system created by Europeans. [See the analysis of the United States History document in The Textbook Letter, November-December 1994.]

The UCLA people distributed thousands of copies of their documents to educators throughout the country. They presumably hoped to create a constituency and to ensure that the "standards" could be railroaded through the National Education Standards and Improvement Council (NESIC), the federal body that had been established by the Goals 2000 Act to certify national standards in various subjects, including history, English, mathematics, geography and science.

Things did not work out that way.

The history "standards" were panned by a number of critics, both inside and outside of the education establishment, and the UCLA organization was forced to adopt a defensive posture. Early in January -- at a meeting convened in Washington by Charles Quigley, the executive director of the Center for Civic Education (Calabasas, California) -- Gary Nash and a few of his associates confronted some prominent critics of the "standards," and Nash agreed that the "standards" would have to be revised. The nature and scope of the prospective changes were not spelled out, however, and the revision job was left to Nash and his group at UCLA - the same people who had concocted the "standards" in the first place. This outcome struck me as silly and not at all inspiring.

What was inspiring was the reaction of the United States Senate to the "standards." On 18 January, by a vote of 99 to 1, the Senate adopted a resolution that condemned the UCLA products, urged NESIC to reject them, and said that if any federal funds were to be provided for the development of history standards, the recipient of such funds would have to possess a "decent respect" for American history and for Western civilization. The resolution had been introduced by Senator Slade Gorton (Republican; Washington), who described the UCLA stuff as "ideology masquerading as history."

Two weeks later, on 1 February, Senator Nancy L. Kassebaum (Republican; Kansas) cited the UCLA documents as she introduced a bill aimed at shutting down the entire federal-standards program. Her bill would eliminate NESIC, would restrict the authority of the National Education Goals Panel (another agency established by the Goals 2000 Act), and would forbid the expending of federal funds "for the development or dissemination of model or national content standards, national student performance standards, or national opportunity-to-learn standards."

A similar bill was put before the House of Representatives on 24 February by Congressman William Goodling (Republican; Pennsylvania), the chairman of the House's Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities.

There seems to be little doubt that both bills will succeed, and even some strong supporters of the federal-standards program are conceding that it is moribund. The program has been controversial from the outset because it has sought to put the federal government into the curriculum business, and this has been repugnant to many conservatives who contend that the writing of curricula and educational goals must be left to state or local governments. The advent of Republican majorities in both houses of the Congress put the program into serious jeopardy; reactions to UCLA's multi-culti "standards" have evidently helped to accelerate the program's demise.

At UCLA, however, Charlotte Crabtree and Gary Nash have continued to plug their multi-culti products, and in mid-February they began distributing a form-letter to people who had received copies of the "standards." The letter urged recipients to write to federal legislators, to express support for the UCLA documents, and to oppose their "rejection." It did not explain how the documents could be rejected if (as Crabtree and Nash had implied in the documents themselves) they already had been adopted as federal standards and had been approved under the Goals 2000 Act. The letter also failed to disclose that, according to statements which Nash had made after the meeting in Washington in January, the UCLA documents were going to be revised.

Along with the letter, Crabtree and Nash sent a list of "talking points" that recipients could use in appeals to senators and congressmen, plus a list of alleged replies to charges that critics had leveled at the "standards." In reading those lists, I found that they contained various items which were false, misleading or absurd, such as the claim that "The standards are not 'politically correct' -- they are historically correct," or the claim that "every principal education organization in America" had taken part in the process of developing the "standards."

It seemed to me that Crabtree and Nash had not lost any of their taste for using fog-talk and misrepresentation in their efforts to promote their bogus documents and their twisted "history."


William J. Bennetta is a professional editor, a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, the president of The Textbook League, and the editor of The Textbook Letter. He writes often about the propagation of quackery, false "science" and false "history" in schoolbooks.

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