Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell launches into culture wars on Friday morning.
In a letter obtained by CNN, the Republican leader asks Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to drop the curriculum in American schools that McConnell says tells a revisionist story of the founding of America.
McConnell asserts that such programs as the New York Times 1619 Project “reorient” the point of view of American history “away from their intended goals towards a politicized and divisive program.” Politico was the first to report on the letter.
Project 1619 became a hot topic for conservatives across America, and politicians fought efforts by school districts to make it part of the history curriculum in public school districts.
The project, launched by The New York Times in 2019, reframes American history around the date of August 1619 when the first slave ship arrived on American shores, and it has sparked a fierce debate over the legacy that the slavery played a role in the shaping of America, particularly in its treatment of black citizens.
Republicans have mistakenly suggested that there are widespread efforts to install the program in schools across the country. Former President Donald Trump made it a rallying cry in the 2020 election. While some states, such as California, have used the project as part of their learning plan, the federal government has not directly ordered or encouraged schools to use it, as it plays no role in planning specific programs in local schools. These decisions are largely taken at the state level.
However, the education department, under the Biden administration, offered to offer grant programs to states and local schools that would inspire them to use tools like Project 1619 in their classrooms.
McConnell asks the Secretary of Education to drop the idea.
“Real, trained and accredited historians with diverse political views debunked the project’s many factual and historical errors, such as the bizarre and inaccurate notion that the preservation of slavery was a major driver of the American Revolution. McConnell writes. “A renowned historian called the project ‘so bogus in so many ways’. Quoting this debunked plea confirms that your proposed priorities would not focus on critical thinking or a specific story, but on spoon-feeding students with a biased story.
CNN has contacted the Education Department for a response to McConnell’s letter. The White House referred CNN to the education department.
McConnell did not limit his criticism to Project 1619. He also attacked state-level programs which he said demonstrate a model of public schools attempting to indoctrinate children with liberal policies.
“Families did not ask for this divisive nonsense. Voters did not vote for. Americans never decided that our children should learn that our country was inherently bad.
CNN’s Lauren Fox and Betsy Klein contributed to this report.