Cotton’s initiative, which is more a political statement than legislation, would strip schools of federal funding equivalent to the amount of instructional time dedicated to teaching the 1619 Project. “This bill speaks to the power of journalism more than anything I’ve ever done in my career,” Hannah-Jones wrote while promoting the Pulitzer Center’s “educational resources and curricula” designed to “bring ‘The 1619 Project’ into your classroom.” American education, implied in the series of articles she subsequently promoted, does not adequately teach “the history of American slavery.” And what is objective knowledge anyway? “LOL,” the Pulitzer-recipient wrote when confronted with Civil War historian James MacPherson’s assertion that the project “lacked context and perspective. “Right,” she continued, “because white historians have produced truly objective history.”
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that American primary education fails to explore many aspects of American history—the legacy of slavery being just one of those deficiencies. But instructional time dedicated to history has, along with the study of civics, been subordinated to a dozen other objectives educators are compelled to pursue. It would seem unwise to sacrifice more of that precious classroom time to the examination of tendentious tracts that are, by their own architect’s admission, not history, per se, but rather an argument over narratives. Students should learn the history first and argue over it later.