curriculum and by requiring school districts to provide instructional
materials that accurately describe what happened.
The selection of instructional materials for world history and other
subjects is a careful, deliberate process designed to ensure teachers and
students use materials that are factual, informative, challenging, and
engaging. Approval of required and supplementary materials ultimately
rests with the Board of Education. Those who wish to submit materials for
consideration, whether they are publishers, teachers, superintendents,
community groups or individuals, must follow this process. As a matter of
course, pamphlets, abstracts or other similar publications that advocate
a particular point of view are not likely to survive this process. This
does not prevent their use in history as examples of primary and
secondary source historical artifacts. On the other hand, materials that
are accurate, objective and that help students acquire the analytical
skills used by reputable historians will likely be approved for use.
Legitimate historical works (whether they are textbooks or studies of
particular events and circumstances) are an integral part of our
district's history/social science curriculum. Sometimes the findings and
conclusions of these studies may be uncomfortable. As we learn more about
the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust, and the more recent large-scale
exterminations in Africa and the Balkans, we come face to face with the
dark side of history. On occasion, we even have to look ourselves in the
mirror and ask what we would have done or what should we have done.
Hitler's "unwilling executioners" did not always wear SS uniforms. They
sometimes lived in the house next door.
Many of us would like history to be different than it is. If these
wishes could undo the evils that have occurred, that would be wonderful.
However, if these thoughts translate into distortions, falsifications or
failure to acknowledge the evils that occurred, the search for truth and
understanding is compromised. Only when we discover the truth, can we
learn from it. That is why the study of the Armenian Genocide, Holocaust
and other tragedies are so important, not as controversial issues but as
part of our collective history.
There are those who still maintain the Earth is flat, but that doesn't
mean their perspectives warrant extensive consideration in our
classrooms. What we must do is ensure our students have instructional
materials that do not color the past, but instead help us discover the
truth with the hope of making our world a better place for future
James R. Brown is the superintendent for the Glendale Unified School