President Trump on Monday defended his threat to defund schools using the 1619 Project curriculum, which reframes U.S. history around the arrival of the first enslaved Africans, calling it “revisionist history.”
“I want everybody to know everything they can about our history,” Mr. Trump said at a White House press conference. “I’m not a believer in cancel culture, the good or the bad. If you don’t study the bad, it can happen again. So I do want that subject studied very, very carefully and very accurately.”
At the same time, he said, “we grew up with a certain history and now they’re trying to change our history. Revisionist history.”
“That’s why they want to take down our monuments, that’s why they want to take down our statues.”
Mr. Trump tweeted Sunday that the Education Department would investigate schools using the 1619 Project curriculum, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning 2019 New York Times Magazine series led by Nikole Hannah-Jones and developed in conjunction with the Pulitzer Center.
The curriculum is being taught in more than 4,500 schools, according to the Medill News Service at Northwestern, despite being disputed by some leading historians as ideologically driven and factually inaccurate.
“Department of Education is looking at this. If so, they will not be funded!” Mr. Trump tweeted.
The federal government’s share of K-12 education spending was only 8.3% in 2004-05, with 83% coming from state and local funding, although the federal percentage has been increasing since the early 1990s, according to the Education Department.
Conservatives cheered Mr. Trump’s decision to take on the 1619 Project, while Ms. Hannah-Jones accused him of being politically motivated.
“Do those concerns about cancel culture and McCarthyism and censorship only apply to the left or do they apply to the POTUS threatening to investigate schools for teaching American journalism? Silence is deafening here,” she tweeted on Sunday.
Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, replied that “you’re engaged in propaganda,” adding, “Calling out lies is not silence” and that the project is “filled with serious errors.”
“Why should the false revisionist history not be used as the basis of K-12 education across the nation? Not because of ‘cancel culture,’ which you support,” tweeted Mr. Cruz. “But because it is wrong & deliberately deceptive.”
Mr. Trump linked the 1619 Project to the recent attacks by left-wing protesters on monuments and statues, as well as the recent recommendations by a D.C. working group to rename public parks and buildings in the nation’s capital honoring those with links to slavery or systemic racism.
The report recommended renaming, removing or “contextualizing” eight federal monuments and statues, including the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial, but D.C. officials removed those after pushback.
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