Philadelphia city council members have approved a resolution that calls for socialist historian Howard Zinn’s book “A People’s History of the United States” to be taught in public high schools.
The resolution was backed by council members Jim Kenny and Jannie Blackwell, who believe that Zinn’s far-left socialist vision of American history is currently missing from high school textbooks.
“Howard Zinn’s ‘A People’s History of the United States’ emphasizes the role of working people, women, people of color, and organized social movements in shaping history; not simply the version retold by those powerful enough to ensure history remembers their actions in a positive light, regardless of the truth,” the resolution states.
The power to set curriculum is in the hands of the school district superintendent and board, meaning that the resolution is little more than a strong recommendation. Still, Kenny and Blackwell believe a message must be sent that Philadelphia students need formal instruction in recognizing privilege and inequality.
“Council does hereby recognize the need for students to be taught an unvarnished, honest version of U.S. history that empowers students to differentiate between moments that have truly made our country great versus those that established systemic inequality, privilege, and prejudice which continue to reinforce modern society’s most difficult issues,” the resolution states.
Zinn’s book is lauded in far-left circles, but many conservative thinkers believe his self-described “history” is really social activism masquerading as fact. Former Indiana Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels believed strongly that the book had no place in K-12 classrooms–an opinion that landed him in trouble with liberal academics when he started his new job as president of Purdue University. (RELATED: As governor, Mitch Daniels waged war on liberal professors)
“We must not falsely teach American history in our schools,” said Daniels in a statement defending his opposition to Zinn’s work. “Howard Zinn, by his own admission a biased writer, purposely falsified American history. His books have no more place in Indiana history classrooms than phrenology or Lysenkoism would in our biology classes or the `Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ in world history courses.”
Daniels made clear that college professors had the right to use the book if they so choose, but K-12 teachers have no business treating Zinn’s work as fact. (RELATED: Slammed by profs and historians, Mitch Daniels digs in)
Zinn was an apologist for communist dictators like Fidel Castro, who has brutalized and oppressed the people of Cuba for decades.
Like Zinn, Councilwoman Blackwell defended the Castro regime.
“Castro did not do everything wrong, or he would not have lasted so long,” she said in a statement to CBS.
Philadelphia Daily News columnist Will Bunch praised the decision to demand that Zinn be taught in class, happily explaining that his own radicalism was fostered by “A People’s History of the United States.”
“Although readers here assume because of my fondness for the radical ’60s that I emerged from the womb carrying a picture of Chairman Mao, the truth is that I was a bland center-left voters and a pretty “balanced” journalist in the ’90s,” he wrote. “Reading Zinn helped me understand what went wrong, and how everyday people could fight to get things right.”
Mao, the Chinese dictator whom Bunch recalled fondly, ruled communist China from 1949 to 1976. His policies of mass starvation and execution are responsible for an estimated 50 million deaths.
Neither Bunch, Kenny or Blackwell responded to requests for comment.
There has been no word yet on whether district officials plan to turn Philadelphia students into apologists for mass-murdering dictators.