Will school make 12th graders read books that allegedly promote sexism, racism and slavery?
U.S. / Arizona – A Charter high school is allegedly teaching its students the “benefits of slavery”.
Uptown Magazine reports that 12th graders at the Heritage Academy in Mesa (Arizona) are required to read books that the Americans United for Separation of Church and State reading materials that have “sexist, racist and anti-Semitic messages.”
The books in question are by W. Cleon Skousen, a faith-based political theorist who is often cited by right-wing talk-show host Glenn Beck and the “tea party” movement. The 5,000 Year Leap and The Making of America are required reading for seniors at Mesa-based Heritage Academy.
The late W. Cleon Skousen, was also considered a right-wing historian, and have penned several other books.
Heritage Academy’s point of view
On its website, the school was founded in 1995 and is one of Arizona’s oldest charter schools. It “offers a classical education for the leaders who will shape the 21st Century and is dedicated to youth, their growth and development”.
AZ Central reports the academy’s founder says one of the school’s missions is to give students a deep understanding of history and introduce them to classic works by authors that range from Benjamin Franklin to Anne Frank. “Our purpose is not to convert students to different religious views,” Heritage founder and Principal Earl Taylor said. “It is to show them that religion influenced what the Founders did.”
The Americans United’s stand
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a non-profit organization that advocates separation of church and state first sent complaints to the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools in late 2013, demanding that the school stop using Skousen’s books. The board dismissed the complaints in April 2014, after investigations concluded the school did not break any law.
The group filed its complaint again in June 2014.
In the legal letter, American United stated “the books present racist and anti-Semitic beliefs. For example, in The 5,000 Year Leap, Skousen suggests that the world would be happier, more peaceful, and more prosperous had the United States not intervened in the Holocaust… and in The Making of America, Skousen reprints an essay by Fred Albert Shannon, which, according to Skousen, tells the story of slavery in America. The Making of America…”
“The essay appears to paint slavery in a positive light. According to the essay, “slave gangs in transit were usually a cheerful lot… if [negro children] ran naked it was generally from choice, and when the white boys had to put on shoes and o away to school they were likely to envy the freedom of their colored playmates.””
Read the full letter here.
Image credit: 12 Years a Slave book cover