Recently Professor James Loewen wrote a widely circulated op-ed in the Washington Post. It explained that many Southerns believe a false narrative about the root causes of the Civil War because of falsehoods in their textbooks. This is not just a Southern problem. The Alexandria Plan, which is the social studies curriculum produced by Great Minds Inc., also falsely invokes state’s rights to explain the casus belli for the Civil War.
According to the Alexandria Plan’s learning expectations for students of American History, this is what students should understand about the Civil War:
“They should know that the North believed the Union must be saved in order to save democracy, and also that Southerners—most of whom were not slave owners—were willing to fight to protect their states from what they saw as outside control.”
Furthermore, in the era summary that is designed to provide background knowledge to the teachers so that they may elaborate and elucidate on the subject matter, the Alexandria Plan proffers to the following logic for Southern succession:
“Southerners believed that in fighting for local control and state-level democracy, they were defending the Revolution’s legacy against the tyranny and aggression of an outside power—and they were ready to battle for those freedoms.”
Great Minds is a DC based non-profit that also produces the Wheatley Portfolio (English) and Eureka Math. It is one ten most influential publishers of common core aligned curricula in the country, it is growing rapidly, and its curriculum is being used all over the country. It may be easy for voters and parents in safely blue localities like DC or New York to dismiss the denial of climate change or evolution as problems for the backwaters of the South, but this would be foolhardy. Regional curriculum disputes impact national curriculum outcomes. Northern students in safely blue districts are currently being taught that the South revolted, not because- as the rebels clearly stated– they wanted to preserve and extend slavery, but because “they were defending the Revolution’s legacy against the tyranny and aggression of an outside power.” This should be a wake up call to all parents. It should make you angry. You should do something about it. Contact Great Minds and ask them to tell the truth: the Confederate States of America were formed and fought the Civil War for the express purpose of preserving slavery and white supremacy.
Note: To be clear the Common Core is a set of standards and not a curriculum. This commonly misunderstood distinction means that the Common Core standards do not endorse any particular view on the cause of the Civil War. Rather it is up to producers of curriculum like Great Minds, Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, etc. to craft curriculum that align to the broad Common Core standards.